Lee turns professional

2009-04-15 16:09

New Zealand teenager Danny Lee, the youngest winner on the European Tour, turned professional on Tuesday a week after making his debut at the US Masters.

The 18-year-old, who burst on to the world stage with victory at last year's US amateur championship, will make his first appearance in the paid ranks at this month's New Orleans Classic.

"I'm very proud of what I accomplished as an amateur but felt like the time was right to challenge myself at a higher level as a professional," Lee said in a statement.

"I have already gotten a good sense of how much I can learn and grow from competing against the pros, especially last week being around so many great players at the Masters."

Lee, who missed the cut at Augusta National last week after shooting 74 and 81, became the youngest player to win a European Tour event with a one-shot victory at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Perth in February.

He had already caught the attention of the golfing world when he eclipsed Tiger Woods as the youngest US amateur champion, beating American Drew Kittleson 5&4 in the final at Pinehurst, North Carolina.

Lee was born in South Korea but moved to New Zealand with his family when he was eight and later joined New Zealand Golf's high-performance unit.

He took up New Zealand citizenship only last year.