Malaysian top golfer seals fourth US Open appearance

PETALING JAYA: National No. 1 golfer Kelly Tan is over the moon.

The 27-year-old top woman golfer in the country earned a fourth appearance in the prestigious US Women’s Open after claiming one of the three berths at stake in the one-day 36-hole qualifier at the Half Moon Bay Links in California on Monday.

Kelly carded a pair of 72s to finish second, one shot behind American winner Kathleen Scavo in the 69-competitor standings on even-par 144. Lim Siew Ai is the other Malaysian woman golfer to have played (2002,2004,2005,2006) in four US Opens.

American Lucy Li, 18, carded a 145 total to take the third spot and a ticket to the US$5.5mil (RM22.69mil) showpiece at the Olympic Club in San Francisco from June 4-7.

It will be Lucy’s second appearance in the US Women’s Open after she famously qualified seven years ago at the age of 11.

Two-time champion and Hall of Famer Juli Inkster also attempted but she could only muster a tied-20th finish on 14-over 156.

The Half Moon Bay played host to one of the 22 qualifying events conducted across the US and in Japan between April 26 and May 13, where 1,595 participants from 57 countries are vying to be part of the 156-woman field in the second Major of the year.

And Kelly was grinning from ear to ear to be among those punching their tickets early.

“I did exactly what I had to do. I knew from the start that apart from the tough course, the conditions were going to be brutal as well, ’’ said Kelly.

“The Half Moon Bay Links is a beautiful ocean front course, but of course the strong winds can be very difficult to deal with. The difficult hole locations also make things very challenging for us.

“I was able to play two full practice rounds on Saturday and Sunday, so all the preps did come in handy.”

When asked why she picked Half Moon Bay Links and the earliest date available for the attempt, Kelly said: “I was playing at the LA Open last week, so it was easy for me to get here.

“Also, I really felt that I have been playing well lately and didn’t want to wait.

“But the coolest thing is that I was just at the Pebble Beach down the road (about two hours’ drive along the California Coast) where my fiancé (Dustin Lattery) proposed to me last December.

“And then a few months later I played and qualified (for the US Women’s Open)!”
It marked the third time Kelly made it to the US Women’s Open via qualifying events following her successful bids in 2014 and 2016.

In 2014, she finished tied-fourth at the Dunwoody Country Club in Georgia and was tied-first to be one of the four successful candidates from the Twin Hills Country Club in Massachusetts two years later.

Kelly also made the playing field for last year’s US Women’s Open but through her position on the US LPGA Tour’s Official Money List.

Kelly will now look forward to surpass her best US Women’s Open outing of a tied-32nd placing in 2016.

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