PETALING JAYA: National golfer Natasha Andrea Oon has qualified for the prestigious US Women’s Amateur championship for the first time – but she could pass up on the opportunity.
The 18-year-old Natasha made the cut for the 132-competitor event by virtue of being among the top 75-ranked women golfers on the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
However, she is in two minds about whether to participate or not because she’s now in Malaysia.
The travel restriction is no longer an obstacle since the Immigration Department has now allowed students abroad to leave the country but the world No. 64 Natasha has her reservations.
“It’s the quarantine (upon arrival in the United States), ” lamented Natasha, who was playing collegiate golf for San Jose State University until the pandemic hit, forcing her to return home.
“It will be costly. Imagine having to pay for quarantine for two weeks… then, the domestic flight, accommodation and food. That’s a lot! And there are quarantines, too, when you travel from state to state.
“That’s why I’m still undecided, but most probably I will not go. I don’t think I’m ready, also because of the Covid-19 problem in the US.
The 120th edition of the Women’s Amateur will be held at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland from Aug 3-10. San Jose in California and Maryland are on opposite sides of the country.
“This is definitely a rare opportunity because it’s the first time USGA (United States Golf Association) have given exemptions to WAGR’s top 75. In previous years, it has always been top-25 or you have to make it through the qualifiers.
“I did try to qualify once but that was many years ago.
“But it’s okay if I miss this time. I’m quite confident I can qualify again next time.”
Natasha, who helped Malaysia win silver in the team event at the Philippines SEA Games last December, had impressed in her sole tournament in the US this year.
She claimed a commendable eighth-placing finish at the Juli Inkster Meadow Club Collegiate in March.
She then flew home as universities there shut down due to the Covid-19 situation.
If Natasha decides not to compete, Malaysia can still count on Alyaa Abdulghany to fly the country’s flag in the championship.
Alyaa, 21, is a permanent resident in the US but still holds a Malaysian passport. She, too, has represented Malaysia, making her debut in the last SEA Games.
The California resident has been a regular in the US Women’s Amateur and has made three appearances -– from 2016 to 2018.
Her best outing was making it to the last 32 stage of the elimination match play round in 2016 and 2018.
Alyaa has been in superb form since the start of the year.
After winning Women’s Australian Master Of The Amateurs in January, she claimed two top 10 finishes in the collegiate meets.
Earlier this month, she finished a respectable 15th in the Colorado Women’s Open, a professional event.