PETALING JAYA: National No.1 women’s golfer Kelly Tan has put a difficult start to the LPGA Tour season behind her by notching a creditable tied-22nd finish at the US$2mil (RM8.25mil) Lotte Championship.
The 27-year-old fired a successive six-under 66 to finish on 15-under 273 total at the Kapolei Golf on Saturday.
Kelly marked her scorecard with six birdies, including four in the opening nine holes, for her maiden bogey-free round of the season.
Former world No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand was a runaway winner after shooting 65 for 28-under total to win by seven strokes.
The timely confidence-boosting result netted Kelly US$19,987 (RM82,470) and she vowed to build on the solid performance in the coming tournaments.
Kelly will tee off next at the Hugel-Air Premia LA Open in Los Angeles, starting Thursday before heading to California for the crucial one-day US Women’s sectional qualifier next Monday.
“After missing the first couple of events (of the season) while I was stuck in Malaysia (due to travel), I knew it was important for me to get off to a good start this season and I’m happy to find my footing after three starts, ” said Kelly.
She missed the cut at the Kia Classic and could only finish tied-63rd at the ANA Inspiration.
“I’ll just keep moving forward. Obviously things clicked this week and putts were falling, ” she said.
“I need to keep playing well and get good position to help me with the re-rank in the Tour’s Priority List (for tournament entry) reshuffle.
“Although I did well last year, every player’s exemption status remained as they were in 2019 as a part of the adjustment made to Covid-19-shortened season. So I’m actually still holding a conditional status. I’ll need to move up the ranks.
“I’m happy with my progress and I know I’m set for a busy season ahead!”
Kelly was a revelation last year as she finished inside the top 30 on seven occasions and missed just two cuts in 15 appearances.