SCOTTSDALE – As Min Woo Lee approached the tee for the start of the WM Phoenix Open’s second round Friday, the crowd buzzed with excitement. The energy increased as he drove the fairway.
The same excitement defined the vibe any time he readied his swing. Following Lee across every hole was a group of over 200 fans wearing coordinated Lululemon clothes and the same red chef hat. The hat donned the slogan fans in the group chanted every time he made a putt: “Let him cook.”
It’s the byproduct of a social media savvy 25-year-old PGA pro and a slick marketing campaign.
“The one thing that all of us have in common is just our love for golf,” fan Stephen Russell said. “But more importantly just for Min Woo.”
Those fans will likely get to watch 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 an expression of encouragement meaning “let him do his thing,” took off after Lee finished tied for sixth in last year’s Players Championship.
Lee, and others, saw opportunity. He frequently shows personality and marketing know-how for his 268,000 followers on TikTok. Lululemon saw opportunity and jumped on board.
“A lot of golfers only do their thing and don’t do the social media side as well as they can,” Lee told Sports Illustrated. “I really enjoy that side of things. I’ve done it since I was young.”
The expression “started in a few of my posts, randomly. I don’t know if someone commented it, or I said it. It’s nice to have something to relate to me, or something that I started.”
At the WM Phoenix Open, his fans obviously found something in the trend, as all 200-plus of them chanted his name and his slogan from his first swing of the day all the way through the last. They took full advantage of the fan experience at the Phoenix Open to bring more exposure to Lee.
It’s hardly the first time fans have shouted the slogan. The rising global golf star started championing the term more and more on social media as his popularity rose. Before he knew it, he was hearing it everywhere. The chants weren’t new to him before the Open, but rarely to this extreme.
“That was (Lee’s) slogan for it,” fan Teddy Kuchta said. “We just ran with it, you know?”
The Phoenix Open is no stranger to dedicated fans wearing unique outfits, but few stood out more than those wearing the red chef hats. The group was impossible to miss, and drew as much attention to themselves as they did to Lee and his playing partners Keith Mitchell and Ben Martin. Everywhere they went, heads turned to ask the fans about their attire.
As Lee approached the putting green at hole 6, the group had split into two smaller ones and chanting “let him cook” across from each other. It started to echo across the course, and even inspired others to join.
Aside from the red chef hats, every fan sported a blue polo shirt and tan pants from Lululemon.
On the surface, the group chanting his slogan is an entertaining show of support. However, wearing his brand conveys a deeper level of dedication for the Australian golfer.
“We have a production team that gets everybody together, gets the shuttle buses, securities, does all the things to get us to the show,” fan Terry Cornwell said. “When we come out here, we just follow him through the rest of the tour.”
Not only does the group put a lot of effort into the planning, but also to arranging travel. Many of them don’t live in Arizona, including Kuchta, who made the trek from Dallas.
For some of the group, the event was about more than cheering on their favorite golfer. Many of them met through Facebook, while others were friends in high school. This was a weekend to see old friends from across the country.
And to cheer a golfer they have help become a PGA TOUR favorite.