SCOTTSDALE – As Min Woo Lee approached the tee for the start of the second round of the WM Phoenix Open on Friday, the crowd was buzzing with excitement. The energy surged as he drove down the freeway.
That same enthusiasm defined the atmosphere whenever he read his swing. Behind Lee on each hole was a group of over 200 fans wearing coordinating Lululemon clothes and the same red kitchen hat. The hat wore the slogan fans in the crowd chanted every time he took a shot: “Let him cook.”
It’s the byproduct of a 25-year PGA professional with social media savvy and a great marketing campaign.
“The one thing we all have in common is our love of golf,” said fan Stephen Russell. “But most importantly only for Min Woo.”
Those fans will likely be watching Lee compete for a few more days. He finished his first two rounds at 2-under 140, which should be just above the cut line.
The phrase “Let him cook,” a popular meme and expression of encouragement that means “let him do his thing,” took off after Lee finished tied for sixth at last year’s Players Championship.
Lee and others saw the opportunity. He often shows personality and marketing knowledge to his 268,000 followers on TikTok. Lululemon saw the opportunity and jumped on board.
“A lot of golfers just do their own thing and don’t do the social media side as well as they could,” Lee told Sports Illustrated. “I really enjoy that side of things. I’ve been doing it since I was young.”
The phrase “started in some of my posts, by accident. I don’t know if someone commented on it, or I said it. It’s nice to have something to associate with me, or something I’ve started.”
At the WM Phoenix Open, his fans definitely found something on trend, as all 200-plus of them chanted his name and his slogan from his first swing of the day to his last. They took full advantage of the fan experience at the Phoenix Open to bring more exposure to Lee.
It is not the first time that fans have called out the slogan. The rising global golf star began championing the term more and more on social media as his popularity grew. Before he knew it, he was hearing it everywhere. Calls were not new to him before the Open, but rarely to this extreme.
“That was (Lee’s) slogan for him,” fan Teddy Kuchta said. “We just ran with it, you know?”
The Phoenix Open is no stranger to dedicated fans dressed in unique attire, but few stood out more than those wearing red chef’s hats. The band was impossible to miss and drew attention to itself as did Lee and his playing partners, Keith Mitchell and Ben Martin. Everywhere they went, heads turned to ask fans about their outfit.
As Lee approached the green on the 6th hole, the group had split into two smaller ones and were chanting “let’s cook” in front of each other. It began to reverberate throughout the course and even inspired others to join.
In addition to the chef’s red hats, each fan wore a blue polo shirt and brown pants from Lululemon.
On the surface, the group chanting its slogan is a fun show of support. However, his trademark clothing conveys a deeper level of commitment to the Australian player.
“We have a production team that gets everyone together, gets the shuttle buses, the securities, does all the things to get us to the show,” fan Terry Cornwell said. “When we come out here, we just follow it the rest of the tour.”
Not only does the group put a lot of effort into planning, but also organizing the trip. Many of them don’t live in Arizona, including Kuchta, who made the trip from Dallas.
For some in the group, the event was about more than cheering for their favorite player. Many of them met through Facebook, while others were friends in high school. This was a weekend to see old friends from all over the country.
And to cheer on a golfer they’ve helped make a PGA TOUR favorite.