KAN-DO SPIRIT SEES BUNNABODEE TAKE CROWN, KULTIDA IS SECOND
THAIS SHOW THEIR METTLE AT LAGUNA
It was a hive of activity at Laguna National Golf and Country Club last Thursday - as it had also been on the previous three days - and the club's Kevin Kwee (executive director) and Patrick Bowers (managing director and CEO) were at hand to support the girls.
The Singapore Ladies Amateur Open, an annual popular fixtures since 1992, brought together some of the best women's golfing talent in the region.
No doubt, the Open event was the most competitive as it involved young talent from 13 countries, including Singapore. But the "aunties", many of whom had been very competitive in their younger days, were not ignored as they played in the Mid-Amateur category.
To underline the high standard this event brings out, a scan at the past winners endorses this fact. Among them are Australian Lee Min Jee, LPGA Lotte champion in 2011, Jennifer Rosales, the 1995 winner, and our own Kee Bee Khim who went on to claim the title four subsequent times.
This time, among the foreign golfers, the Thais, South Koreans, Hong Kongers, Taiwanese, Malaysians and Filipinos put on parade a rich talent line-up.
The Thai girls, coached by the Thailand Ladies Golf Association high performance manager and the country's former LPGA Tour player, Virada Nirapathpongparn, a former NCAA and US Amateur Open winner, played above par to take the coveted title.
Kan Bunnabodee, the overnight leader, swept the 28th edition of the of the popular event by three strokes on 207 (73-66-68) over compatriot Kultida Pramphun in the Open Division, with Malaysian Nur Durriyah Damian taking third spot in the 54-hole R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking tournament.
The student at the American School in Bangkok said: "I felt nervous at the start. But I improved as the round went on. My aim was to hit as many fairways as possible, which is why I used my three-wood to tee-off on some holes."
Kan, who turns 15 in a week's time, hopes to become the world No. 1 and sets her sights on completing a college education in the United States before joining the professional ranks.
Kan drew inspiration from coach Virada, 34, who retired from competitive golf in 2011 and is currently churning out precocious talent from the country that produced 2017 Singapore Open winner Prayad Marksaeng.
Although Kultida, 15, finished second, she was thrilled by her showing as she said: "This is my first time ouit of Thailand and the first time I've been on a plane. It's been an exciting week."
Jacqueline Young signed off with a 76 to finish as the leading Singaporean on 221. She was followed by Suanne Hailey Loh (222) and Sarah Tan (224).
Goh Kui Hwa (above, inset), organising committee chairman, said: "We are very proud to be able to host this championship which has such a long and illustrious tradition. Thanks to Laguna National for setting up a wonderful course for the girls."