A Junior With A Difference
It is not the easiest to get your head around the following, but the 20-year-old Amanda Tan, the local girl who is playing in this week’s HSBC Women’s World Championship, is at once a professional golfer and a junior member of the Sentosa Golf Club which is playing host this week. To explain, her parents are fully-fledged members of the club, while she has junior status until she reaches the age of 25.
Tan, who has been a professional for two years, first played in the HSBC as a 14-year-old after making her way through local qualifying. She did the same again in 2017 but this year found herself facing an altogether tougher task in that there was now a regional qualifier involving 17 players from as many as six different countries.
To her credit, she came from three behind overnight to overtake Thailand’s Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul and win on the last green. “In 2014 and 2017 I felt I had sneaked a place in the field but this time around I really feel I belong,” said Tan .
Since there is no women’s professional tour in Singapore, she and her two sister professionals on the island are members of the Singapore Men’s Professional Golf Association. The men welcome them as members and offer equal prize-money in their handful of events, though the girls must play from the same tees as they do.
Tan has only played in one of their tournaments but, while she recognises that that competing in such company makes for good practice, she believes that she can learn more through playing week-in, week-out from March to December on the Women’s China Tour.
Last year was not the best but, in 2017 as a rookie, she snatched a tournament from a Thai player who already had a couple of China Tour titles under her belt. The pair ended up locked in a play-off in which Tan found out something rather extraordinary about how her nerves react under extreme pressure. Though she could still swing her club as well as ever, she lost all co-ordination in her legs as she tried to walk down the fairway. “It was funny afterwards but I thought I was going to seize up altogether at the time.”
To her surprise, she put another good swing on her second to lay the ball up short of the water – and ended up with a winning birdie.
She doubts she will ever feel that nervous again and has good vibes about playing alongside Jennifer Song and Austin Ernst at 9.52 a.m. tomorrow morning. Her parents will be among the many locals who will be supporting her all the way, while her brother, though he has a twenty-five handicap, will be on the bag. “He knows what he can and what he can’t do,” explained his sister, reassuringly. For the moment, at least, he has been told he can help with the reading of putts.
Tan can still remember the single shot which started her golf career when she was a mere child. While her parents and her brother were having a lesson at a local golf range, she had been given a club told to stay in a bay of her own and keep quiet until they were finished.
As it was, the then seven-year-old Amanda was hitting the ball far too well to stay quiet. She eventually prevailed upon her family, along with the professional, to watch her and, without further ado, she promptly hit a nine-iron which felt and looked so right that the pro said at once that she should take the game seriously.
To this day, a nine iron remains her favourite club.