Malaysian pro Ainil Johani Bakar may be used to a globetrotting lifestyle, having played in Europe and Asia the last half decade-plus, but with the suspension of tours worldwide the 30-year-old is glad to be at home with her family … especially during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
“It’s always nice to be at home during Ramadan and to celebrate Hari Raya with family. Although this year is going to be a bit different with no Ramadan bazaars and gatherings, I’m still grateful to be with my loved ones,” said Ainil, who has missed spending Hari Raya at home on more than a few occasions due to her touring schedule.
“I know they’re glad to have me around too, but sometimes I think I annoy them a bit!”
Ainil lives at her family home in Sungai Buloh with parents, Abu Bakar and Jamilah, and younger sister Ainil Johanis who is a nurse at a dialysis centre in Shah Alam. Two older siblings, another sister Ainil Johana and brother Mohd Johan, are married with kids and live elsewhere.
And yes, all three sisters have the same first name!
“It was not easy for us growing up with the same first names, you know! People kept getting us mixed up,” joked Ainil (Johani that is!).
Ainil currently holds cards for the Ladies European Tour (LET), LET Access Series and China LPGA Tour, but has not played since the LET qualifying school in Spain in late January. “I missed the LET events in Australia in February due to some visa issues. Nothing is confirmed at this moment, so I’ll just have to wait for the tours to update us before I know where and when my next event is,” she lamented.
After a stellar amateur career during which she represented the country on numerous occasions, Ainil turned professional in 2010 and has played mainly in Europe since 2014. She has won seven professional titles, six on the local PGM Tour and one on the LET Access Series at the 2016 Ladies Finnish Open.
Family time aside, Ainil stays busy at home keeping in touch with her game and working out. “I don’t have a practice net to hit full swing shots but I do slow motion work to feel the movement, and I practice my short game a lot. I’ve also been working on my fitness with gym and yoga sessions,” she shared.
Like many others who are stuck at home during the Movement Control Order (MCO), Ainil is discovering the hidden chef in her.
“I’m learning how to cook from my mum, which is going great. But I have to say it’s not easy to make some of the dishes … my fave is sambal ikan bilis (anchovies in chilli paste),” said Ainil, adding that she is also catching up on movies and TV series.
Asked what’s the first thing she will do once the MCO is lifted, Ainil replied: “Head to the nearest driving range!”
Story by Jonathan Ponniah / Photos courtesy of Ainil Johani Bakar