PETALING JAYA: Golfer Ainil Johani Bakar (pic) is hoping for a smooth-sailing season in Europe after her tournament opportunities were severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic last year.
The 30-year-old, who holds a limited status on the Ladies European Tour (LET) and full privileges on the secondary circuit LET Access Series (LETAS), only managed three starts in Switzerland last year.
Ainil finished tied-36th at the LETAS’ Flusemberg Ladies Open but missed the cut at the Swiss Ladies Open (LET) and Lavaux Ladies Open (LETAS).
But with travel restrictions starting to ease worldwide, Ainil believes she can look forward to competing in more events again.
She is also encouraged by the LET’s recent announcement of their record-breaking 2021 schedule featuring 27 events in 19 different countries, with players competing for a total prize money in excess of €19mil (RM92.86mil) starting in May.
“Well, the calendar looks good for sure!” said Ainil, a one-time winner of the Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT).
“However, not all are full-field events. With a limited status, I can only gain access to the full-field ones. It all depends on how I fare in the first few events.
“Hopefully, I’ll get at least six to eight starts from the schedule. Should I play well enough in all of them, then it will help me get into more events later in the season.
“My goal is to play as many events as possible and eventually finish in the top 90 on the money list to keep my card for next season.
“At the same time, I’ll also play in LETAS which is another avenue to secure my status for the coming year.”
Ainil is also grateful some of her sponsors have remained supportive despite these trying times.
“I’m so lucky that I still have Mazda and Adidas backing me, ” she said. “Unfortunately, I no longer have equipments sponsorship now, so I’m currently seeking one, hopefully before I start touring again.”
If all goes well, Ainil hopes she will be able to gain entry into the LET’s season-opening €200,000 (RM976,000) South African Women’s Open.
Ainil showed she’s no pushover against an illustrious field in Europe, having bagged the LETAS’ Finnish Ladies Open for her biggest career title in 2016 and finishing as runner-up on two occasions.