Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Malaysia’s ‘Michelle Wie’ grabs two bronzes in Games debut

MALAYSIA’S Kelly Tan has the looks, the height and the style.

And yesterday, the 16-year-old showed that she has what it takes to be the top golfer in the country when she emerged from her maiden SEA Games with two bronze medals.

Kelly Tan

The rookie achieved her best-ever three-round score of 72-71-70 for a total of three-under 213 to finish third in the individual event at the SEA Games Golf Club in Booyoung Lao yesterday.

And her strong card helped Malay-sia nail the team bronze with a total of 432. The other members of the team are United States-based Michelle Koh and Korat SEA Games bronze medallist Ainil Johani Abu Bakar.

Filipina Ikeda Chihiro won the individual gold, beating Thailand’s K. Yupatorn in a playoff after both were tied at 210. The Philippines also won the team event on 425, ahead of Thailand (428).

Kelly, a Form Four student of Datuk Syed Esa Secondary School, could have made it an even more memorable day in the individual event.

She was just a shot behind Yupatorn going into the last hole but a bogey dashed her hopes of a silver-medal finish.

Nevertheless, Kelly was thrilled with her results.

“For an amateur like me, the highest level we can go to represent Malaysia is the SEA Games. Winning two medals here is a great start for me even though I came here eyeing a gold,” she said.

“It’s great to achieve my best-ever three-round score here. It has been an awesome three days out there for me.”

Kelly used to be a volleyball player, but five years ago she fell in love with golf after frequenting the course at Bukit Banang in Batu Pahat with her father.

And now, she has set big goals for herself.

“I will give myself another three to four years before I try my luck in professional golf,” said Kelly.

“This SEA Games is a good start for me and ultimately, I would like to represent Malaysia in the Olympics (golf makes it debut in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games). It is a big ambition but nothing is impossible.”

Meanwhile, team manager Mohd Yaacob Kassim said that Malaysia would have stronger teams for both the men’s and women’s competition at the next Games in Indonesia.

“We have young golfers and the majority of the team were playing in the SEA Games for the first time. The men’s team did not win a medal but they certainly gained a lot of experience,” he said.

The men’s team of Mohd Iszaimi Ismail, Gavin Kyle Green, Nicholas Fung and Mohd Iylia Jamil finished fourth with a total score of 862. Nicholas was the best individual performer in sixth place with a four-round total of four-under 284.

Thailand’s S. Wasin emerged as the champion with a score of 277. The Thais also took the team gold with a total of 845. STAR

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