SINGAPORE – Since picking up golf at the age of six, Singapore’s Shannon Tan has risen steadily through the youth ranks and the teenager will embark on the next chapter of her golfing career when she heads to the United States next year to play National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 golf for Texas Tech University.
Shannon, who is 140th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, hopes that joining Texas Tech will arm her with the tools and experience to turn professional and help her achieve her dream of playing on the LPGA Tour.
The 17-year-old verbally committed to joining the school in December last year after accepting an offer of a full scholarship that will cover expenses, including her tuition fees, which according to Texas Tech’s website are US$24,122 (S$32,704) for the academic year, and lodging.
The teenager, who intends to major in sports management, had also considered other schools, but felt that Texas Tech’s golf programme suited her best.
She said: “I wanted to go somewhere where I can golf in winter because it’s important to play all year round.
“Ranking-wise, they were the best out of my choice and they’ve got good facilities as well. Also, you get to practise and play with the other good players on your team.”
The Red Raiders are led by head coach JoJo Robertson, who has guided the team to an NCAA Regional nine times and two NCAA Championships appearances in 12 seasons.
At the end of the 2014-15 season, Texas Tech attained a fifth-place finish in the NCAA Championships, which was the school’s highest finish ever nationally.
Shannon now joins a handful of Singaporean golfers who have gone to the US to study and play golf. Ashley Menne and James Leow are undergraduates at Arizona State University, while others like Nicklaus Chiam (Washington State University), Choo Tze Huang (University of Washington) and Jonathan Woo (University of Oregon) also took a similar path.
Shannon has been honing her game in Australia since leaving Methodist Girls’ School after Secondary 1.Being on the Gold Coast allowed her to compete almost weekly. The Coombabah State High School student’s schedule in Australia also gave her more time to train as school starts later in the day and ends earlier.
The Grade 12 student said: “I got to be on a lot more different types of courses and I got to experience all four seasons.
“There are also more competitions and a lot more players there.”
This week, Shannon will get her first glimpse of what it is like to be a top professional at the Sept 30-Oct 3 Hana Financial Group Championship in South Korea. The 108-player field for the $1.5 billion South Korean won (S$1.72 million) competition includes world No. 6 Lydia Ko of New Zealand and world No. 9 Minjee Lee of Australia.
Shannon is among a group of promising young golfers from Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia who were invited by the Hana Financial Group to compete in the KLPGA Tour tournament.
It will also be her first overseas competition since the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines, where she finished 13th of 15 players.
With the onset of the pandemic, Laguna National managing director Kevin Kwee supported Shannon by giving her access to train and practise at the golf and country club’s facilities.
She has also been competing in several World Amateur Golf Ranking tournaments organised by the Singapore Junior Development Tour at Laguna National.
She also set herself challenges to lower her scores as a way to improve given the lack of international competitions.
Now, she is looking forward to competing in South Korea.
She said: “It’s quite exciting, but I’ll just take it as (a chance to gain) experience because it’s also my first time going to Korea and playing golf there, so it’s different conditions, weather and type of course, so I’m trying to learn from the experience and opportunity to play with good players.”
Singapore Ladies’ Golf Association president Lyn Yeo said: “Shannon can be an inspiration to a lot of juniors in Singapore. A lot of young girls look up to her and whenever they get to play with her, they’re very inspired.
“She’s continually enjoyed the pressure and competition and has delivered on the milestones she’s achieved.
“The road is very long for a golfer, but I think she has worked hard and has been very disciplined and hasn’t wavered from this plan.”
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