Young stars shine bright on college circuit

TWO of Malaysia’s budding stars, Khavish Varman Varadan and Natasha Andrea Oon, enjoyed a fruitful few weeks with individual performances that lifted them to new personal highs.

Indeed, tis country’s top-ranked amateurs would have made anybody proud.Khavish won his second tournament title that carries points in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR) with a victory at Graeme McDowell Invitational.

He then followed that up with a determined top-10 at the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

For her part, Natasha climbed into the top-50 for the first time and it came courtesy of a top-three finish in some illustrious company at the Stanford Intercollegiate in Stanford, California last week.

That effort allowed her to assume the top ranking among Malaysia’s women amateurs for the first time.

With his win at the Graeme McDowell Invitational in Gadsden, Alabama, where he is at the university that bears the state’s name, Khavish consolidated his position as Malaysia’s top-ranked men’s player. Given the strength of the field, he made astromical strides up the global rankings as he jumped 100 places to 177th. And with his ninth place showing at the Bank of Tennessee, he now sits at 176th – a personal best.

En route to his victory, Khavish shot all three rounds in the 60s (69, 69, 66) to finish the 54-hole tournament on 12-under 204.

Speaking to TeeUp, he said he was just happy to have played well and start their new season on a positive note.

He acknowledged that there was still a lot to do ahead, but added that he looked forward to the challenge and was concentrating on improving his game all the time.

Nick Robillard was runner-up, a shot back on 205, and Fabian Sunden third, with a 211 total.

At the Bank of Tennessee event, Khavish had rounds 70, 70 and 68, for a 208 total. His eight-under was five shots off Ben Carr’s winning 203.

Natasha’s third place finish at the Stanford tournament, where long-time world number one Rose Zhang won by four strokes, marked a 10th top-10 finish in WAGR ranking events and left her still without a win.

It was a polished performance in every sense that saw her shoot 69 and 70 before closing with a six-under 66, for a 205 total.

Her reward for the week was to climb 158 places up the amateur world rankings to 50th.

The Czech Republic’s 37th ranked Sara Kouskova was second on the Stanford leaderboard on 201, four in front of Natasha.

Zhang’s victory maintained her perfect start to the season – winning three from three in her rookie season for Stanford University. That stat naturally brought Tiger Woods into the conversation. And it was duly noted that not even Woods managed it. The 14-time Major winner won two of his first three tournaments during the 1994/95 season at Stanford.

Zhang shot 65, 65 and 67 for her 16-under-par 197 total and a four-shot winning margin.

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