Malaysian ladies No 1 Kelly Tan has vaulted up to a career high 151st position on the Rolex World Rankings following her recent run of strong performances, highlighted by a T13 finish at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last weekend.
With five events left for the year, Kelly has already chalked up her best ever season on the LPGA Tour despite the abbreviated schedule due to the Covid-19 pandemic. She is currently in 33rd place on the tour’s Race To CME Globe standings and is 39th on the money list with US$186,308. Kelly’s previous best season came in 2016 when she finished 87th in earnings with US$153,762.
“I feel like this week (the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship) has opened up a lot more opportunities for the rest of the year. I think I’m pretty comfortable in getting into the CME Group Tour Championship,” noted Kelly, who turns 27 on October 26.
Kelly’s rise is made all the more remarkable by the fact that she started the year ranked outside the world’s top 400, following a two-season downturn in form when she played mainly on the secondary Symetra Tour.
“2020 has been a weird year for me, from not knowing exactly how many events I’ll get into … and now I’ve played in every single one of them!” she enthused.
Kelly added that she was still unsure if she would get into the US Women’s Open via the LPGA Tour money list, where the top 10 players not otherwise exempt through November 11 earn starts. The final Major of the year tees at Champions Golf Course in Houston on December 10-13, the week before the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
Kelly described her impressive showing in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Aroniminks Golf Club in Pennsylvania, regarded as one of the toughest courses in the United States, as a “huge confidence booster”. The joint 13th placing was the best ever by a Malaysian in a Major across both genders, supplanting Lim Siew Ai’s T18 in the same event in 2007 (when it was known as the McDonald’s LPGA Championship).
“I’ve been playing well and it is so rewarding to see the results in a Major championship; especially on a tough course like Aronimink! My game is definitely trending towards the right direction,” shared Kelly, who jointly led the first round with an opening 67, which was another Major benchmark for Malaysian golf.
“I played with Carlota Ciganda and Anna Nordqvist in the third round and really learned a lot, just from seeing how they handled themselves in those circumstances. And, oh yes, I must brag that ‘Bones’, Phil Mickelson’s ex-caddie Jim Mackay, was our walking commentator. That was the coolest part of my week!”
Turning professional in 2013, Kelly played four full seasons on the LPGA Tour from 2014 but lost full playing rights following the 2017 season. She regained her place on the LPGA Tour with a T20 finish in the gruelling Q-Series last November.