Subang: With Kelly Tan and Michelle Koh opting to turn professional at the start of the year, Nur Durriyah Damian will headline the local challenge during the 36th Asia-Pacific Ladies Team Golf Invitational for the Queen Sirikit Cup this week.
The 19-year-old is the most senior national amateur and will bank on her extensive international exposure as she looks to steer a rookie team comprising of debutants Dianne Luke Jia Zhen and Kelie Kan Kah Yan.
The trio have enjoyed the benefit of training at the Bunga Raya course at Saujana Golf & Country Club since early March under the watchful eyes of Queen Sirikit Cup veterans Lim Siew Ai (coach) and Lim Ai Lian (alternate captain).
“We enjoyed a good build-up to the tournament and our support team has really helped us hone our game for this championship. This will be my second Queen Sirikit Cup but I have a much important role this time as I am leading from the front, so I’m excited about the challenge but not letting myself get carried away by expectations,” said Durriyah.
“The Queen Sirikit Cup is the most prestigious tournament in the region, attracting the cream of players from Asia-Pacific, so the level competition is definitely high and the onus is on our team to rise to the occasion and perform. The goal is to finish inside the top-five but we know that we have to battle hard to achieve that,” she added.
California University of Pennsylvania Athletics graduate Dianne is making her first appearance in the championship and hopes to make the most of it. “I’ve always been fourth or fifth in the rankings, so I’m really excited on making the team and hopefully, I can pull my own weight and make a difference for the team,” said the 23-year-old Miri native.
“We trust each other to be able to go low. There is a good vibe around the team and our coach and support staff have instilled good confidence in us coming into the tournament, so the key will be to keep a straight head out there, eliminate mistakes and take our chances when it matters,” noted Dianne, who admitted that fast-running greens on the Bunga Raya tract will be a major test for the participants from 13 Asia-Pacific nations.
Malaysia’s best Queen Sirikit Cup performance to date came during the 14th edition at Chung Shan Hot Spring Golf Club, China in 1992 when the team of Ai Lian, Siew Ai and Irene Yeoh finished third.