Kelly Tan regains LPGA Tour status

KUALA LUMPUR: Golfer Kelly Tan is undoubtedly a fighter.

The 30-year-old swiftly regained her full LPGA Tour status after losing it this season through the LPGA Qualifying School (Q-School), which concluded in Alabama, United States, on Wednesday.

Kelly finished the grueling six-day, 108-hole final stage known as the LPGA Q-Series in a tied-27th position after carding rounds of 72, 72, 67, 71, 67, 72 for a two-under 419 total at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove.

Her effort was good enough to place her among the 50 successful candidates from this year's Q-School.

Only those who finished in the top 45 and ties were awarded status to compete in the full season next year.

Kelly was forced to return to Q-School after narrowly missing out on the top 100 of this season's Race to CME Globe points standings.

Although she managed a runner-up finish in the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, a team event, with close pal Mathilda Castren of Finland, her season was marred by a string of poor results, missing 14 cuts in 19 appearances.

This marked Kelly's fourth successful attempt at Q-School. In 2013, Kelly, then still an amateur, went through the Q-School to secure her LPGA full debut in 2014.

She also turned to Q-School in 2019 and 2021 to secure her card for the following years.

A return to the LPGA Tour will boost Kelly's hope of qualifying for her third Olympics, given the substantial world ranking points up for grabs through the LPGA Tour, the world's most prestigious circuit for women's golf.

Based on current projections, Kelly needs to break into the top 350 to realise her ambition.

She has dropped significantly from No. 227 at the start of the year to the current No. 518.

In the process, she also lost the national No. 1 status to Natasha Andrea Oon, who's ranked No. 260 and is provisionally qualified for Paris 2024.

With Kelly successfully regaining her LPGA status, this marks the first time ever that Malaysia will have two players competing in a full season on the LPGA Tour.

It could have been three, as Alyaa Abdulghany, the other Malaysian in the Q-Series action, narrowly missed out on the top 45 cut by an agonising one shot.

Natasha is set for her maiden full LPGA Tour debut after qualifying from the second-tier Epson Tour with flying colours, finishing second on this season's Official Money List to comfortably secure one of the 10 promotion berths.

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