Chen Xingtong, Aamiya Koul eye a spot at HSBC Women’s World Championship, Latest Golf News - The New Paper

Chen Xingtong, Aamiya Koul eye a spot at HSBC Women’s World Championship

A pair of ladies’ golf clubs given by her father’s colleague was what kick-started Chen Xingtong’s unexpected journey in the sport.

With no one else in her family expressing an interest in the game, her father signed her up for golf lessons at Warren Golf and Country Club in early 2019.

It took a while for Xingtong to warm up to it, with the 15-year-old recalling how she initially found it tough to swing the club. But she stuck with it and even switched from competitive swimming to golf after deciding to pursue it more seriously a year later.

In 2020, she joined the Singapore Golf Association’s (SGA) future squad comprising selected junior golfers who have done well at its junior events, and made the junior squad the following year.

Xingtong said she enjoys golf because “we’re not really competing with other people, we’re just trying to minimise mistakes”, adding that “as long as you play well, you have a fighting chance”.

She noted: “It’s not like head-to-head kind of competition. You don’t know how other people are playing unless you’re keeping track, so you can focus on yourself – it appeals to me more.”

The teenager’s sporting career had initially begun in swimming, but she decided to make the switch owing to the demanding training schedule – from Primary 1 to 3 she had to juggle daily training sessions with her studies and Chinese dance co-curricular activity.

Her training regimen is no less intensive now, but golf holds a different appeal.

Such is her dedication to the sport that she transferred from Bukit Panjang Government High School midway through Secondary 1 to enrol at the Singapore Sports School, as the latter offered a programme that would allow her to focus on both golf and studies.

The Secondary 4 student said: “In golf, there’s a lot more of a mental aspect to it, like practice. Because you have to learn how to deal with pressure in a tournament situation.”

This season, she is hoping to build on a confidence-boosting maiden international win at the Selangor Amateur Open golf championship in 2023. On Jan 24 and 25, she will compete in the national qualifying tournament for the HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa Golf Club, which will stage the tournament proper from Feb 29 to March 3.

Xingtong, who is part of a field of nine, said: “There are a lot of top pros playing, so it’ll be a good learning experience for me. For example, if they make a wrong shot or miss a putt, I’ll be able to watch and learn how they recover from such setbacks and hopefully be able to incorporate their techniques into my own game as well.”

Another golfer eyeing a spot in the US$1.8 million (S$2.4 million) competition is 12-year-old Aamiya Koul, whose love for the game began when she was about four.

Unlike Xingtong, Aamiya hails from a family of golfers – her father introduced her to it and she learnt by hitting balls with a plastic club into a net at her condominium.

When she was six, she finished 13th at her first competition and the disappointment motivated her to improve.

The Singapore American School pupil said: “I enjoy the competitiveness and the luck involved in the game... I like being able to win.”

This fierce desire to win is evident in other aspects of Aamiya’s life, particularly when she plays basketball with her club.

It has also propelled her to victories on the international stage. In December 2023, she won the US Kids Golf Indian Championship title to earn a spot at the 2024 US Kids Golf World Championship.

The HSBC tournament will be special for Aamiya, who has watched every edition on the course since 2015.

She said: “It’s cool to be able to play with all the pros. Playing the qualifiers would be a great experience. I want to learn from all the better people playing, like all the pros and top amateurs.”

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