Malaysia will be hoping for a top five finish in the 36th Asia-Pacific Ladies Team Golf Invitational for the Queen Sirikit Cup which started today at Saujana Golf & Country Club.
Team coach Lim Siew Ai noted that it will not be easy given the high standard of the competition, which sees three-women teams from 13 Asia-Pacific nations doing battle on Saujana’s Bunga Raya Course.
“A top five finish is the goal, but that’s putting a high hill for them to climb especially considering the experienced teams they have to contend with. The competition will not be a walk in the park,” said Siew Ai.
With Kelly Tan and Michelle Koh having joined the professional ranks, Nur Durriyah Damian will spearhead the local challenge. The 19-year-old is the most senior national amateur and will bank on her extensive international exposure to steer her rookie team-mates Dianne Luke Jia Zhen and Kelie Kan Kah Yan.
The trio have enjoyed the benefit of training at the Bunga Raya course since early March under the watchful eye of Siew Ai, while 1992 individual champion Lim Ai Lian has provided much backroom support as the alternate captain.
“We have had a good build-up to the tournament and our support team has really helped us hone our game for this championship. This will be my second Queen Sirikit Cup but I have a much important role this time as I am leading from the front, so I’m excited of the challenge but not letting myself get carried away by expectations,” said Durriyah.
“The Queen Sirikit Cup is a prestigious tournament, attracting the cream of players from Asia Pacific, so the level competition is definitely high and the onus is on our team to rise to the occasion and perform. The goal is to finish inside the top-five but we know that we have to battle hard for that,” she added.
California University of Pennsylvania graduate Dianne is making her first appearance in the championship and hopes to make the most of it.
“I’ve always been fourth or fifth in the rankings, so I’m really excited on making the team and hopefully, I can pull my own weight and make a difference for the team,” said the 23-year-old Miri native.
“We trust each other to be able to go low. There is a good vibe around the team and our coach and support staff have instilled good confidence in us coming into the tournament, so the key will be to keep a straight head out there, eliminate mistakes and take our chances when it matters,” noted Dianne, adding that the fast greens on the Bunga Raya tract will be a major test for the participants from 13 Asia-Pacific nations.
Malaysia’s best Queen Sirikit Cup performance to date came during the 14th edition at Chung Shan Hot Spring Golf Club, China in 1992 when individual champion Ai Lian, Siew Ai and Irene Yeoh claimed third placing.