UNITED STATES-based golf star Alyaa Abdulghany is all pumped up to don national colours for the first time at the SEA Games.
The 20-year-old, who’s a permanent resident in the US but still holds a Malaysian passport, opted to represent Malaysia in the Philippines after being approached by the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) in June.
“I’m very excited to represent Malaysia in the SEA Games,” said Alyaa, who’s pursuing a business administration degree at the University of Southern California (USC),
The Johor-born Alyaa moved to Newport Beach, California, with her family when she was six.
Despite growing up in the US, Alyaa said she has never forgotten her roots.
“I’ve been raised in a Western culture, but I’m still 100% Malay and I can still speak the language,” she said.
Ranked 54th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR), Alyaa is one of the brightest young talents in the SEA Games.
In 2016, she was named the USA Today High School Player of the Year and she was also in the US winning sides at the 2017 Junior Solheim Cup and 2016 Junior Ryder Cup.
“My ultimate goal is to play on the LPGA Tour but at the same time, have a strong background in my education.”
Forming a strong side with Natasha Andrea Oon and Ashley Lau, who are also playing collegiate golf in the US, Alyaa believes they stand a strong chance to contend for the two golds at stake in the women’s individual and team events.
The trio will be out to end a 26-year title drought in the women’s event.
The last Malaysian winners were Lim Ai Lian, Lim Siew Ai and Dorothy Ng, who claimed the team title in the 1993 Singapore Games.
Thailand and the Philippines, powered by their big names, are expected to dominate the contest.
Thailand will be led by world No. 1 Atthaya Thitikul, who’s out to defend the two SEA Games golds in Kuala Lumpur while the host will throw in their Asian Games-winning trios of Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go to bid for glory on home soil.
“Everyone in the field has an equal opportunity to win.
“Attaya and Yuka are strong players but we are equally determined to do well.
The golf competition, which will be held at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Clark, begins on Wednesday with a 54-hole stroke play individual tournament over three days.
The Malaysian’s men team are Ervin Chang, K. Rhaasrikanesh, Adam Arif Madzri and Zubair Firdaus.
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