Ainil to tee-off alongside men pros in Seremban

Ainil Johani Bakar / © Khalid Redza (IMG)

Kuala Lumpur: Lady professional Ainil Johani Abu Bakar will line-up against some of Malaysia’s top men professionals in the RM125,000 Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) Seremban Classic, which begins Monday.

The 22-year-old rookie professional, who had applied to participate in the Seremban event to get some much needed competitive match practice ahead of her debut at the Hero Indian Women’s Open in Delhi from December 9 – 11, received the green light today from PGM chairman Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid.

“We decided to allow Ainil Johani to play because we share her dreams of making it good on her debut on the Ladies European Tour in Delhi. Obviously, this is an exceptional case and we felt that we should assist all local professionals, regardless of gender,” said Ahmad Sarji, in a statement released by PGM late this evening.

Ainil had applied for a wildcard slot to participate in the US$300,000 tri-sanctioned Ladies European Tour (LET), Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) and Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI) and was granted an invite based on her performance in the United States, where she had re-located in November last year to pursue her dreams in the paid ranks.

The plucky lass was expectantly excited to be given the opportunity to tee off alongside “her big brothers” at the Seremban International Golf Club on November 21.

“I was elated to receive the good news earlier today and am very thankful to PGM and Tun [Ahmad Sarji] for extending the opportunity. My last competitive tournament was the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia in October and I need some good quality playing time to get my game level up before my Delhi trip,” said Ainil, who expects to have no much problems playing alongside male professionals as an amateur during the Asian Tour’s Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters in 2009.

“I’m a bit worried on how my fellow professionals will react to my presence but I’m confident that they’ll be cool about it. I’m participating just to get the rust out of my system and hopefully see first hand how my swing changes are coming about. Hopefully, I will do well and enjoy doing what I do best – that’s play golf,” added Ainil, who aims to use the Delhi event as a building block towards her goal to break into Ladies European Tour next year.

In another development, PGM’s tournament director Brig. Gen (R) Ron Mahendran confirmed that 85 players including 69 professionals including Ainil and 16 amateurs have signed up to play in the Seremban event, which will be the penultimate leg of the burgeoning domestic this year.