TAN’S FANS ARE READY
The excitement is mounting ahead of the 15th HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa Golf Club’s Tanjong Course and, even now, there will be competitors who can ‘see’ their opening drive sailing over the creek and paving the way for a birdie. The locals, meantime, will be deciding who to watch.
Though plenty will want to follow one or more of the World’s top five of Lydia Ko, Nelly Korda, Minjee Lee, Atthaya Thitikul and Jin Young Ko, the chances are that Amanda Tan’s name will be well-placed on their lists.
As recently as December, Tan, a member of the Sentosa Golf Club, became the first Singaporean to win herself a player’s card for the LPGA’s secondary circuit, the Epson Tour. Then, in early February, she emerged as the top qualifier – she won by five – for what will be her fifth appearance in the HSBC. Who among her fellow members won’t want to congratulate her on those feats when she signs on at the start of the tournament week?
Yet it is not just the club members who will be feeling inordinately proud of Tan. HSBC and the LPGA Tour players will be feeling much the same in that Tan has upped her game every time she has joined them for their Singapore week.
It all started when she was a 15-year-old invitee to the ’14 instalment and someone had fixed for her to have a practice round alongside the then 17-year-old Lydia Ko. You would have thought that Tan would have been asking Ko a series of questions when it was the other way about, with Ko quizzing Tan on the best places to eat and what she needed to see.
In fact, just playing alongside a player of Ko’s stature was enough in itself . “Lydia wasn’t telling me what to do or anything,” said Tan, “but I couldn’t stop learning from the way she played. She wasn’t a long hitter but she was so smart on every shot.”
As for Lesson 2, that was about her long-term future. “From that day on,” said Tan, “I knew that I wanted to be a professional.”
Her parents, both of whom play their golf at the Sentosa GC, were happy to go along with the idea, allowing their daughter to leave school early in order play on the Australian Amateur tour, and then on a China Tour which accommodates professionals and amateurs alike.
By the time she teed up in the local qualifier of 2021, Tan had come on in leaps and bounds. She made her way into a three-way play-off along with Sarah Tan, no relation, and Callista Chen. The whole of Singapore Island would have been shaking with nerves as Chen hit two drives out of bounds to rule herself out the contest. Next, the two Tans hit into bunkers beside the green. Sarah ended up with a shaky bogey whereas Amanda got up and down for a winning par.
That was the week in which she confirmed in front of her own people that she was made of the right stuff. True, she was vastly more experienced than her rivals, but she kept her head to keep those underdogs at bay.
Last year, Tan played on the Women’s FCA Tour – an American mini-tour launched by K&G sports. She won one of their ten events and no-one was overly surprised when she collected her Epson Tour player’s card before returning to Singapore in time for her run-away result in the ’23 HSBC qualifier.
Spectators may well be able to guess what she has learned from the Kos and the Kordas of this world in her HSBC appearances in the coming days.
From the Korda sisters, and from Ko, she will have picked up on the importance they all attach to physical fitness. Ko, for instance, has never made any secret of the time she has spent strengthening her upper body with a view to adding to her length – which she has. An interesting point, this, what with Tan noting in that practice-round of ’14 that Lydia was more a smart hitter than a long one.
Karrie Webb, who was coached by the same Ian Triggs who worked with Tan when she was in Australia, spoke to the press one HSBC week about how her way of coping with pressure was to listen to the birds. Tan, as a resident of Singapore, might not notice the birdsong as much as outsider, but she would seem to have something of a natural gift when it comes to handling the game’s ups and down.
On to what Tan learned from herself in her first HSBC experience. Namely, that she spent too much time looking around “and stuff like that”
This coming week, you won’t see any of the looking around “and stuff like that”. She could still have what she deems bad days among the good, but what fun for everyone to see a player whose progress is in keeping with that of Asia’s major itself.