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Nice start for Malaysia’s top-two

MALAYSIA’S two leading players in the women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings, Natasha Andrea Oon and Ashley Lau Jen Wen, start the New Year on career-highs.

In the first week of the global rankings released on Wednesday, Natasha was slotted in at 44th and Ashley not far off at 53rd in the world.

The latest progress of the two young ladies comes on the back of their participation in the Patriot All-America Invitational championship staged at Wigwam Golf Resort in Arizona at the end of December.

In that 54-hole tournament they both finished in the top-10, with Natasha shooting all three rounds in the 60s. Natasha, who turns out for San Jose State University, settled for a tie for fourth place after shooting rounds of 69, 65 and 69 for a seven-under 203 total on the par-70 Blue course.

That effort, which had Natasha in three-way for fourth, left her four strokes off the pace of Valery Plata, who won it with a 198 total – the only player to go under 200.

Just one stroke adrift of her compatriot, Ashley was joint seventh on six-under 204. The University of Michigan scholar carded rounds of 68 and 70 over the first two days, before closing the event with a four-under-par 66.

Australian-based Jeneath Wong is number three on the list of Malaysians in the World Amateur Rankings and she did herself no harm with a win and runner-up at the back end of last year. The 17-year-old won the Victorian Junior Masters in early December and then finished second at the Port Phillip Open Amateur championship.

She started this year at 113th, while Liyana Durisic is 160th and Audrey Tan Wei Yen 200th.

In the men’s sections of the Malaysian-based rankings, Khavish Varman Varadan started 2022 still rooted to the top.

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Khavish, attached to the University of Alabama and who registered a top-20 finish at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship – his last event with counting points – slipped one rung off his best yet, to 157th.

With sport opening up a lot more than it was last year and a greater number of tournaments planned, it will be interesting to who the top fare this year.

Ervin Chang for sure will be hoping to make up some lost ground and while he did post a few decent finishes in November and December, and a fourth-place finish last week, he is still nowhere near his best ranking.

Ervin’s career high in the World Amateur Golf Rankings is 72nd and this week he started year in 317th place.

In the New Year’s Invitational held at St. Petersburg Country Club in Florida he finished fourth after rounds of 68, 65, 76 and 73, which left him with a 282 total and just three shots off winner Remi Chartier.

At the Orlando International Amateur Championship in the last week of December and hosted by Panther Lake and Crooked Cat, Ervin shot 71, 70 and 70 for a 211 total and 29th place. That was nine strokes off winner Parker Gillam.

The week prior, he finished in a tie for eighth at the Country Club of North Carolina Amateur. There he carded rounds of 69, 74, 72 and 75 for a two-over 290 total. Austin Duncan won it, 12 shots ahead.

In the 54-hole Sunshine State Amateur championship at Mission Inn – El Campeon in Florida, Ervin came up two shots shy of match winner Alejandro Fierro. It was a good effort built on rounds of 73, 73 and 74 that secured him a two-over 218 total and second place.

The other three Malaysians in the top-500 of the rankings are Nateeshvar Anatha Ganesh at 380th, Bryan Wiyang Teoh at 400th and Marcus Lim who slipped from the top spot in the middle of last year to 455th.

While their academic curriculums will obvious take a front seat, Malaysia’s top amateurs need to make further inroads into climbing the global ladder. It might be tough, but it can be done, as proven before. It just takes a little hard, positive thinking and commitment to actual want to do it.

And as we move forward in earnest in 2022, Natasha and Ashley’s rankings in particular will be followed with a bit more scrutiny – and why not? They are the two best-placed Malaysians at the moment.

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