Golf

Published: Monday December 9, 2013 MYT 10:57:00 PM
Updated: Monday December 9, 2013 MYT 11:03:41 PM

Kelly’s choice pays off with LPGA Tour card

"Kelly Tan of Malaysia decided to skip the Myanmar SEA Games and it paid off handsomely as she secured her LPGA Tour card by finishing 13th in the final qualifying tournament at the Jones and Hills Course in Florida on Monday. - Filepic

"Kelly Tan of Malaysia decided to skip the Myanmar SEA Games and it paid off handsomely as she secured her LPGA Tour card by finishing 13th in the final qualifying tournament at the Jones and Hills Course in Florida on Monday. - Filepic

THE decision to give up the chance to win the gold at the SEA Games has paid off in a big way for Malaysian top woman amateur golfer Kelly Tan Guat Chen.

Kelly claimed a lucrative US LPGA Tour card after finishing an impressive joint 13th in the LPGA final qualifying tournament at the Jones and Hills Course in Florida yesterday. It was her first attempt to earn the card and only the top 20 get to play on next season’s Tour.

The 20-year-old Kelly saved her best for the last with a four-under 68 to finish the five-day, 90-hole event with a total of seven-under 353. Kelly managed par 72s in the first two rounds. She then posted a 71 in the third round and then lowered it to 70 in the fourth round.

Symetra Tour rookie Jaye Marie Green completed a wire-to-wire victory. The 19-year-old posted a 29-under 331 for a 10-shot victory over South Korean Lee Mi-rim.

Kelly, the national amateur champion, will be second Malaysian after Lim Siew Ai to play on the Tour. Siew Ai made her debut in 1999.

Kelly had qualified for the LPGA final qualifying tournament after finishing joint 45th in the Stage 2 qualifying tournament in August.

Jean Chua, who featured in the Symetra Tour, missed out after finishing joint 136th following a disastrous final round of nine-over 81. Only the top 80 golfers earned the right to play in the final qualifying tournament.

Kelly said she started to consider playing on the LPGA Tour seriously after spending her senior year of high school at the IMG Academy in Florida last year after receiving a scholarship from the Sime Darby Foundation.

“I felt I had the potential. I began working with Australian coach Ian Triggs after graduation. After playing around Asia, I felt ready to get my LPGA Tour card.

“I am just pleased to have done enough in the end,” said Kelly, who led Malaysia to the women’s team title at the Putra Cup regional tournament in the Philippines in August.

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