PINEHURST, N.C. — Minjee Lee did not want to return to school after graduating from Trinity International College after her freshman year, but did so anyway because she said she just couldn’t get the idea of adjusting to home life out of her head. The 22-year-old decided not to attend graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin, as some of her classmates had, but she returned to her older sisters’ home in Long Beach and began her college career with a bang.
In her first two collegiate starts she finished on top of the leaderboard and her childhood coach managed to get her to the NCAA Championship as an individual last year as a freshman. Even as she was working and living with her parents, Lee won the Scholar-Athlete Team Award at her school — another recognition that brought the entire Lee family together for a few weeks in January.
“This is probably one of the most intense feelings you can feel,” Lee told The Charlotte Observer on Thursday. “As a mom, you’re here helping your daughter succeed and yet she’s missing so much. My father is here helping his daughter succeed. My two sisters are here. I went on a four-day trip during finals to see them. It was very different being home. You feel a little bit withdrawn and you’re alone. You’re lonely. At some point in time it really sinks in. I wish I could’ve spent a couple more weeks at home with my family, just sort of celebrating graduation and graduation day.”
At least she’s doing okay now, but the only golf course Lee left behind was in Long Beach and a 90-mile round trip to the nearest course in Texas. Despite her family’s suggestion of a study abroad program, she went it alone and enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill as a student-athlete. Lee finally returns to her hometown as a two-time NCAA champion in Raleigh this week.