Pic: 16-year-old Kelly Tan (left).
By Jugjet Singh
MALAYSIAN JEAN Chua Tze has set a top-15 target for herself in the inaugural Sime Darby Malaysia LPGA tournament which will tee off today at the newly refurbished Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
The local challenge will also consist of another professional Cindy Lee-Pridgen, and amateurs Aretha Pan, Diana Tham and Kelly Tan.
Jean, 22, did not blink an eyelid when she said: "Even though I have not played at this course before, but I have set myself an aim to finish at the top-15 bracket as I feel my game is at its best."
Jean, from Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, turned professional last year is has since been regarded as the country's up-and-coming woman golfer.
"After winning some local and regional junior titles, I received a full scholarship to Wake Forest University (North Carolina) and was part of the women's golf team," said Jean.
She has been away in US for the last five years, and this means she will not only be battling against the best women in the world, but also the local weather.
"It will be difficult, from every angle you look. But since we are hosting it, I am going to give my best shot. The women in Malaysia need more challenging tournaments like this because we have a large pool of amateurs, but they just disappear due to lack of tournaments to play in," said Jean.
Jean marked her first professional outing by overcoming a seven-shot deficit to clinch the 2009 Thai LPGA, and is Malaysia's best bet for a good finish.
The other Malaysian pro, Cindy Lee-Pridgen from Sabah has represented Malaysia in the 2005 Women's World Cup Golf in South Africa.
Both the Malaysian pros will be battling with the top-five in the world Cristie Kerr of the United States, Ai Miyazato of Japan, Na Yeon Choi of South Korea and Michelle Wie of Hawaii.