Golf: Amanda earns 2nd HSBC Women's Champions start

Amanda Tan playing in the HSBC Women's Champions qualifying tournament at Sentosa Golf Club yesterday. The 17-year-old edged out overnight leaders Callista Chen, 18, and Sarah Tan, 19, in a three-way play-off to qualify for the prestigious event for
Amanda Tan playing in the HSBC Women's Champions qualifying tournament at Sentosa Golf Club yesterday. The 17-year-old edged out overnight leaders Callista Chen, 18, and Sarah Tan, 19, in a three-way play-off to qualify for the prestigious event for a second time.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Golfer Amanda Tan took a leap of faith two years ago when she stopped going to school to pursue the sport full time.

Yesterday, the 17-year-old's daring move to leave the classroom was once again vindicated when she qualified for the HSBC Women's Champions.

Amanda beat 11 other local golfers to win the two-day qualifying tournament to secure a spot at the prestigious US$1.5 million (S$2.1 million) event held from March 2-5 at the Sentosa Golf Club.

She edged out overnight leaders Callista Chen, 18, and Sarah Tan, 19, in a three-way play-off, after the trio finished tied for nine-over 153 total after two rounds at the par-72 New Tanjong course.

Amanda will be making her second appearance at the event, which will feature an elite 63-player field including world No. 1 Lydia Ko. Amanda played in the tournament in 2014 as a 14-year-old.

This time, however, the 1.6 handicapper, whose drives average around 225m off the tee, might be teeing off as a professional for the first time.

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    Age at which Amanda Tan first played in the 2014 HSBC Women's Champions won by Paula Creamer in a play-off.

Amanda, who has applied to turn pro, said being a full-time golfer has always been part of her plans since she picked up the sport aged seven.

And she is convinced that dropping out of the Singapore Sports School officially this year was the right move for her.

The teenager, who turns 18 next Saturday, said: "I have always wanted to turn pro when I am 18.

"Golf is my No. 1 priority now. I haven't always been a 'books and studies' kind of person.

"I remembered when I was 10 in 2009, I had a great year, finishing in the top five in the tournaments I played in. And my parents said: 'Why don't you give golf a shot and play it competitively?'

Her game has improved over the last two years. Besides winning the team bronze medal at the 2015 SEA Games, she finished 10th in the Queen Sirikit Cup in Korea last year.

She noted: "I've learnt to accept that it's fine to play bad golf but it's how well you manage it when something doesn't go well. For instance, today, my approach wasn't as sharp as yesterday, so I just played it safely.

" But previously, I'd just be charging and think that if I don't play well, I'd be doomed."

Despite missing out on qualifying for the HSBC Women's Champions for the first time, both Callista and Sarah remained upbeat.

Callista hopes that Amanda will be able to do Singapore proud at the 10th edition of the HSBC Women's Champions. Singapore's best result in the event came last year, when Koh Sock Hwee finished tied-59th in a 62-player field. Callista said: "Amanda has the game to go far in the golfing scene here. I hope she will play the best golf of her life."

Sarah, who recently completed her A-level examinations at Raffles Institution and will be enrolling into the University of Michigan this year, said: "I think it's a pretty good performance overall after eight months."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2017, with the headline 'Amanda earns 2nd HSBC Women's Champions start'. Print Edition | Subscribe