THE past week was one that was loaded with refreshingly good news and highlighted by two of Malaysia’s ladies proudly standing out on the international stage.
The headliner was obviously Collin Morikawa’s brilliant triumph at the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California.
Almost halfway across the United States, Kelly Tan finished in the top-10 at the Marathon Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio and Alyaa Abdulghany broke new ground when she reached the semi-finals of the US Amateur Championships at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Bandon, Oregon.
Morikawa’s victory will probably always be remembered for it being his first Major championship title. But equally noteworthy, it was one that featured the most congested leaderboard over the back nine on a Sunday afternoon of a Major.
Indeed, there was a tie when no fewer than seven players shared the lead of the PGA Championship, and each one of them with a sniff at the title.
But Morikawa would be the last fellow left standing and accomplished it with some aplomb. For me, he won the Wanamaker trophy with two shots on the back nine (on Sunday).
The first was his chip-in for birdie at the 14th and then that now-famous drive that led to the eagle at the 16th hole.
It was the 23-year-old’s third PGA Tour title and his first major in just his second attempt. And because he was spoken of so highly even before he arrived at TPC Harding Park, he is now being projected as one of the future superstars of golf.
It is difficult to argue with that. This lad put on a show that would have made some greats proud. But perhaps the outstanding thing about his win was the manner with which he carried himself around the golf course – and off it.
He always seemed in control of what he was doing and made tough shots look easy. But like they say, those are traits of champions, and this young man is certainly a champion.
Tan might not have emerged as the champion at the Marathon Classic, but she did herself no harm with her tie-for-ninth finish (her best showing in years on the LPGA Tour).
This performance did not come out of the blue. Last week she finished in a tie for 11th place at the LPGA Drive On Championship, which marked the restart of the women’s Tour.
Malaysia’s leading women’s player, a columnist of The Star, now turns her attention to Europe where she will hope to make more inroads into her goal of climbing the world rankings. She has moved up rather smoothly to 276th in the standings and another good outing at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open in North Berwick this week will see her go up even further.
If Tan plays the AIG Women’s British Open this coming week and continues with her current good form, she could well break into the top-150 in the world.
For Alyaa, there is no such thing. She is up to 24th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings and by far, Malaysia’s top amateur player – men or women, boys or girls. The next best from this country is Natasha Andrea Oon, who is 60th in the rankings, while in the men’s rankings Ervin
Chang at 205th is Malaysia’s best placed golfer.
In making the semis of the US Amateur and climbing six places up with it, Alyaa only became the first Malaysian to achieve the feat of reaching the last four, but will now make it almost impossible for her to be ignored – by her peers and those who select the national teams (whenever that starts again).
Given all that is said of her in the American media and her desires to continue to improve, one can only assume that to win it next year will be her fixed goal, unless something else comes up before then.
Not withstanding that, she can always reflect on this past week with great pride, much the same as Morikawa can, and Tan too.