NIU men’s golf: Joo-Young Lee finds footing with new team

By Steve Shonder

Sophomore Joo-Young Lee is primed to build on a performance that earned him MAC Golfer of the Week honors April 2 heading into the Liberty Spring Invitational on Friday.

Lee finished tied for fifth at the FAU Slomin Autism Invitational on March 29, his most recent tournament. He shot a career-best 70 in the third round after tying his previous career-best score of 71 in the first round.

Lee has upped his level of play in the spring season after struggling in the fall portion of the schedule. In the three spring tournaments, he is averaging a score of 73.3, which is nearly three strokes lower than his season average of 75.9. He averaged a score of 76.08 in 12 rounds of play last season as a member of the Xavier Musketeers.

Q: How did it feel when you were named MAC Golfer of the Week?

A: It felt great. Being named that was definitely one of the higher honors that I’ve gotten so far in my career, and I can’t wait to continue and play better.

Q: [Head] coach [Tom] Porten said you’re coming into your own as a player. What’s been different for you lately?

A: First and foremost, I really struggled with hitting with my driver off the tee in the fall. That’s gotten better. Putting has gotten better, and I’ve shaved a couple strokes off my score. Things like course management. A lot of things have come a long way and gotten better.

Q: This season your average score is about a stroke lower than last season’s. Is that something you’ve been conscious about?

A: I haven’t really thought about that at all. I’m just trying to go out there and play my best every time.

Q: How much does a strong outing like the one you had at the FAU Slomin Autism Invitational on March 29 affect your confidence?

A: It definitely raised my confidence. It helped me gain confidence, and I’m looking forward to [the] Liberty [Spring Invitational] to continue my good play.

Q: What do you feel like you were doing right at the tournament?

A: Playing the moment and keeping it one shot at a time. If I made a mistake I didn’t grind on it. I stayed in the present and took it one shot at a time.

Q: As a transfer, do you feel like you’re getting a little more comfortable with the team?

A: It’s a completely different atmosphere, and [the] camaraderie on the team is great. It’s a lot different from my other school [Xavier]. It’s a good chemistry here and I like it a lot, and we’re definitely moving in the right direction, which is great.