SHE may be a fledgling among the country’s lady professionals but Genevieve Ling aims to make it to the LPGA … and with a smile on her face all the way
In her CV, Genevieve Ling ends her introductory note with this observation: “I believe in the philosophy that life is good when you’re doing what you love – and that is why you can always catch me with a smile on my face.”
And indeed you can, as Genevieve is certainly loving what she is doing … playing golf for a living. Despite being, by her own admission, the ‘baby’ of Malaysia’s growing family of lady professionals, the 24-year-old has already won four times on the local Professional Golf of Malaysia (PGM) circuit in just over two and a half years on tour … with three of those titles coming at the PGM Ladies Championship at Saujana in consecutive years.
“I don’t really know what it is about Saujana … somehow I seem to be lucky there I guess,” smiled the slender golfer, who won last year’s event by five shots from Michelle Koh.
“Despite being a pro for a relatively short time, I have already learned a lot about myself. I believe that I am a much better person today because of what I have gone through,” added Genevieve.
And she has experienced a lot as an elite golfer. Taking up the game at age 12 at her family’s home club, Kelab Rekreasi Tentera Udara, Genevieve played with much success on the SportExcel junior circuit before graduating to the senior amateur ranks … eventually earning a place in the Malaysian national team, which culminated in donning the country’s colours at the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore where the ladies team placed fourth.
Genevieve’s golf exploits soon caught the attention of American college scouts and she was awarded a full scholarship to attend Boise State University in Idaho. From 2014 to 2017, she competed with much success on the competitive US collegiate circuit, amassing a scoring average of 75.6 – the second-lowest ever in Boise State history. And Genevieve achieved all this while maintaining a high level of academic excellence, graduating Summa Cum Laude (i.e. the highest honours) with a BA in Communications degree.
While an international win still eludes Genevieve, it’s not for want of trying. After missing out on her LPGA card at the tour’s gruelling qualifying school in late 2017 (where, commendably, she made it to Stage 2), Genevieve has been plying her trade on the regional circuits with a fair dose of success. 2019, however, was an eye-opener, as she explains: “It was my first full year on tour and, other than the obvious uncertainties that tour life brings, I think the hardest part at first was finding friends to travel with.
“It was my first time going to most of the places that we played at and it was difficult doing that alone, as the costs would be higher. For instance, I would have to find my own way to the course and some require taking commutes such as the rail service, buses etc. Of course, being able to communicate in the local language would have helped,” noted Genevieve.
Now that she is playing the regional tours on a regular basis, Genevieve appreciates having her ‘seniors’ around at events.
“I’m the ‘rookie’ among the Malaysian girls on tour so it’s nice to know that, whenever I need to know how to get somewhere or need some other information, I can just shoot the girls a text and they would be more than happy to help. We don’t all travel together but we do hang out for dinners and such, whenever we have the opportunity to do so. It’s always nice to be around familiar faces in unfamiliar territory,” she shared.
In 2020, Genevieve will play mainly on the Taiwan LPGA Tour, having gained full status there through qualifying school, as well as the China LPGA Tour where she finished in the top 100 of the merit standings last season. “I will focus on China and Taiwan but will also play in Korea when given the opportunity to,” she said.
Genevieve is something of a celebrity in Korea, having earned 10 starts on the lucrative and super-competitive Korea LPGA Tour in 2018 by making the final of the golf reality show, ‘Cinderella Story’.
“I experienced professional golf at the highest level there and was able to see what it was like to play on a world-class tour with some of the best in the world,” she said.
“I played with many top Korean players, including some who are on the LPGA now and have won Major events. It was good to be able to gauge myself against them and see what made them so good, where I stood and what I could improve on.”
When not travelling, Genevieve will continue to play the local PGM ladies events. “Although the field is small for us girls, it is still a four-day professional tournament. Most of the girls have been playing on tour for a while so it’s nice to compete with them at home, as we usually don’t get paired together overseas,” she explained.
“Also, more importantly, it reminds us how to win. No matter how many girls are playing, when it comes down to the wire, things still get exciting and we still feel that rush of blood … which is something that we have to get used to, so we can perform down the stretch when we need to in international tournaments. Winning is a habit, after all”.
And so Genevieve forges on in her quest to be a successful touring pro. Her ultimate aim is to make it to the LPGA Tour but the high costs of having a second go at qualifying school could put that on the backburner … for a short while, at least.
“If possible, I would like to go to LPGA qualifying school this year .., but it’s a big investment so there are a lot of factors to consider. If given the option, I would want to try and achieve my goal as soon as possible,” she noted.
In the meantime and in her own words, Genevieve will “continue working hard”.
“I would like to set goals like to win in Taiwan or China, or even Korea; but at the end of the day, I can’t control that. What I can control is myself and the effort that I put in, so hopefully the wins will come as a result of the work that I do. I would also like to keep going further and hopefully make it on the bigger tours soon,” she said.
And keep smiling all the way to the LPGA …
By Jonathan Ponniah