Confident Kelly wary of strong regional challenge

Kelly Tan ©MALGA
Kelly Tan ©MALGA

Kuala Lumpur: Leading national amateur Kelly Tan Guat Chen is confident of translating her recent form into a successful bid for the 2013 edition of the Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open (MLAO), which tees off on Tuesday.

The premier championship, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this week at the prestigious Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, has attracted some of the region’s top women amateurs, including Princess Mary Superal of the Philippines, Tatiana Wijaya of Australia as well as India’s Gurbani Singh.

In the absence of defending champion Whitney Hillier of Australia – who has since turned professional, Kelly, the 2011 champion, will start as the hot favourite to reclaim the individual crown while ensuring that the team title remains on Malaysian soil.

“I am coming into tournament with a winning mind frame and based on my recent run of results including winning the Sarawak Amateur Open last month, I am quietly confident of putting on a good performance,” said the 19-year-old Johorean, who lost by a single stroke to Hillier last year.

“The team competition is definitely going to go to the wire as countries such as Australia, Philippines as well as Thailand have arrived with reasonably strong line-ups. But I believe that experience and home course advantage will definitely tilt the balance in our favour,” added Kelly, who will line-up alongside fellow Queen Sirikit Cupper Michelle Koh and United States-based Iman Ahmad Nordin in the Malaysia A team.

Despite banking on her familiarity of the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club’s East Course, Kelly admits that the challenging layout has been a mixed hunting ground for her.

“I have good memories here but endured disappointing finishes in my last two tournaments on this course (MLAO and Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia national qualifier), so I am hopeful of reversing that trend. I need to manage the course much better and keep a cool head, especially if things get a little tense come Thursday. I’m hoping to make up for last year’s disappointment.” she shared.

Superal, who headlines a strong Philippines contingent, will look to continue her love affair with Malaysia, which includes a resounding win at the Malaysian Junior Open last September.

“I have always enjoyed playing in Malaysia and good results have followed. So I’m hopeful that I can raise my game this week and give it my best shot,” said the 16-year-old, who arrives on the back of winning the Philippine Junior Amateur Open earlier in the month.

A total of 89 competitors from across the Asia-Pacific region will participate in the three-day championship, which will see three categories being contested in the gross and nett divisions respectively alongside the team event.