Follow along with Alison's progress live here.
Alison Lee’s affection for golf was fueled by bribery. Pure and simple.
At the age of 6, she was repeatedly taken to Whittier Narrows GC by her father, John, an avid golfer, and remembers being simply hot and tired in the summer sun. So one day she protested, and insisted that she wasn’t going to go anymore. “My dad said, ‘OK, Alison, if you go today, we’ll go to Disneyland next weekend.’ ”
She agreed, and over the ensuing months, in exchange for each visit to the golf course, she held out for countless trips to attractions in Southern California: Universal Studios, Six Flags, SeaWorld, Disneyland.
Today, the 17-year-old Lee hopes to make Mission Hills CC her own private amusement park, having earned a sponsor’s invitation to the Kraft Nabisco Championship by emerging as the low amateur in Tuesday’s fresh&easy-Kraft Foods Legacy Junior Challenge. Her score of 4-under-par 68 was two strokes better than that of Lilia Vu of Fountain Valley.
“I was shocked they came up with this,” Lee said Wednesday while practicing for her appearance in the LPGA major. “There never had been a tournament like this before. I was really excited to play.”
Lee, a junior at Valencia High School, asked Esther Lee of Los Alamitos (pictured to the left of Alison in golf cart) to be her caddie this weekend. The two are not related, but have become close friends through their encounters on junior tours. Esther also completed in the Legacy Junior Challenge.
Alison Lee’s excitement for golf kicked in when she won a tournament at age 7. When she held that trophy aloft, she was hooked, she said, “and Disneyland and Universal slowly faded away.”
Also, she began making annual treks to the desert with her dad to watch the Kraft Nabisco Championship, and a dream of playing golf professionally began to take shape. Even today, Lee excitedly recalls getting a glove from Julie Inkster and a ball from Grace Park. In light of this, it was amusing to watch Lee as she left the chipping green Wednesday, and a little girl approached her and asked for her autograph.
Lee was paired with LPGA legend Hollis Stacy in Tuesday’s Legacy Junior Challenge, and said they talked often during the round. The two had planned to chat afterward, but after Lee birdied two of her final three holes to win, she was soon swept up in the excitement of qualifying for the Kraft Nabisco.
It lasted for hours. “I couldn’t sleep last night,” she said. “I was looking at my phone. I wasn’t hungry. I was on the computer. I watched a movie. I was so thrilled. I finally knocked out around 1 a.m.”
Lee says her goal in the Kraft Nabisco is simply to do her best. And maybe learn a little something from those LPGA stars who will be all around her. “I just want to come out here and learn as much as I can from these professional golfers – how they handle themselves on the course and off the course,” she said. “I want to get an overall idea of what life is like for them, because I want to live it when I’m older.”
Click here for more about Tuesday's Legacy Junior Challenge, including a full recap on Alison's victory.