By Jugjet Singh
KELLY Tan returned an amazing even-par 71 round to lead the Malaysian challenge on jointh-23rd in the inaugural Sime Darby Malaysia LPGA tournament at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club yesterday.
And it all has to do with the attention she received from the crowd, shopping stories and make-up.
The 16-year-old started on the 1st tee and fired three birdies on the first, 12th and 16th, but was bogged down by bogies on the fourth, fifth and ninth.
Bubbling with confidence, the amateur was not the least awed by the huge support she received and hoped the cheering crowd would swell further today.
"I have been preparing for this day, and although I was a little nervous, the first hole birdie made my day. And I did not let the back-to-back bogies bother me, instead, I started to enjoy the support from the local crowd," she said.
The crowd kept shouting Malaysia Boleh! every time she hit it right: "I really enjoyed the attention I received, and in fact, during the three hour interruption many people surrounded me at the clubhouse lobby and it made my day.
"I hope the crowd would be bigger tomorrow (today)," she said.
Kelly was in the same flight with Natalie Gulbis from the United States and Azohara Munoz from Spain.
Did she pick up any tips from the pros: "No. All we did was talk about shopping and where is the best place to eat. I suggested Chinese food, which is my favourite."
And the morning after: "I am just going to go through my routine, which is to apply make-up, and then go practice before teeing off."
From the tournament, she hopes to give herself a birthday gift: "You know, I am going to be 17-years-old on Tuesday (Oct 26) and the perfect gift would be to finish top-10."
The other Malaysian players did not do well as professionals Jean Chua ended 32nd on one-over 72, and Cindy Lee 59th on 12-over 83.
The amateurs Aretha Pan was 56th on eight-over 79, while Diana Tham was 60th at 16-over 87.