Golf: Shannon Tan first S'porean to play at Augusta National Women's Amateur

Singapore golfer Shannon Tan posing with her invitation to the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur that was mailed to her last week. PHOTO: COURTESY OF SHANNON TAN

SINGAPORE - It was past midnight on Jan 14 and Singaporean golfer Shannon Tan was getting ready for bed when she received a phone call that would keep her awake.

It came from organisers of the Augusta National Women's Amateur, inviting her to play at the March 30-April 2 event in Georgia, United States.

The 17-year-old had suspected that the call would come after she received an e-mail from organisers asking her for her phone number earlier that day, but she did not want to get her hopes up.

So when the confirmation came that Shannon, who is ranked 78th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, would be participating in the tournament, she could not believe it.

She said: "I'm not in the top 30 of the world rankings so looking at it, I thought I'd missed out so it was definitely a surprise.

"(I couldn't sleep) for a bit, I was happy and couldn't stop thinking about it."

Established in 2019, the Augusta National Women's Amateur is one of the top competitions in the world for amateurs. Among those who have competed in the event include last year's US Women's Open winner Yuka Saso of Japan.

The 54-hole event is split between two venues: the first 36 holes are contested over two days at Champions Retreat Golf Club, while the top 30 players who make the cut will play the final round on April 2 at the famed Augusta National Golf Club.

However, all players will get an opportunity to play at the home of the Masters tournament for a practice round on April 1.

The 2022 Augusta National Women's Amateur champion will receive an invitation to the next five editions of the competition, this year's US Women's Open and Women's British Open, as well as any United States Golf Association, R&A and PGA of America amateur championships for one year - as long as she remains an amateur.

Getting to play in a field comprising the world's top amateurs is something Shannon is looking forward.

She said: "I'm excited to play with good players. I'm also not sure what to expect, it's probably colder than what I'm used to, so I'll need to adapt and looking at the scoring from previous years, I could tell it was a tough course.

"I don't really have expectations. Of course I want to do well, but I'm just going to try and have fun."

The Coombabah State High School graduate, who is based in the Gold Coast, Australia, added that she sees the trip as an opportunity to improve on the weaker areas of her game, such as her ability to adapt to different weather conditions and courses.

She said: "I want to put myself to the test and see how I can adapt to different conditions. Adapting is one of my weaker parts so it's something I've been trying to work on which is why I came back to Australia - every course here is different and the weather changes very quick."

She returned to Australia at the end of last year to focus on her training and will enrol at Texas Tech University in the United States on a full scholarship in August.

But before that, a date with some of the world's best amateurs awaits. Last year, the Singaporean golfer got her first taste of playing among top players at the Hana Financial Group Championship in South Korea, where she finished tied-86th in a field of 108 that included world No. 3 Lydia Ko and world No. 7 Minjee Lee.

The experience has made Tan, who aims to turn professional and play on the LPGA Tour one day, hungry for more.

She said: "The atmosphere (in South Korea) was really good - the atmosphere is different in such a big event with good players. I felt pressure standing on the first tee box, I felt my heart beat go really fast. I liked the atmosphere and experience."

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