Squash: End of the road for Aifa – The Star Online
PETALING JAYA: It took a long injury layoff for Malaysia’s top women’s amateur golfer Natasha Andrea Oon (pic) to put her life and game into perspective.
The 19-year-old missed the first six months of collegiate action in the United States after picking up a stress fracture in her foot.
The injury is a small crack in a bone, commonly caused by overuse and repetitive force which are common in athletes.
However, it did not stop her from notching four impressive starts for San Jose State University (SJSU) since the collegiate season resumed in August.
She finished no worse than a 21st placing and registered two top three results – finishing runner-up at the Molly Collegiate Invitational and third at the Stanford Intercollegiate.
It helped her climb to a career-best No. 49 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR).
“I had a stress fracture in my fourth metatarsal and it put me out of the game for two months,” said Natasha ahead of making a third appearance in the prestigious Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (WAAP) Championship in Abu Dhabi today.
“I think it’s a learning experience and I’ve definitely grown from it.
“I’ve seen myself as somebody else apart from being a golfer. I’ve never had that chance before.
“I think it definitely helped me to reframe my mindset and look at the game as just a sport and being more grateful and counting my blessings every day because I have a healthy body.
“I’m competing and just doing my best out there. The injury taught me that there’s so much more to life than golf.”
Natasha leads a strong six-woman Malaysian cast of several US-based golfers including Ashley Lau, Audrey Tan, Liyana Durisic, Winnie Ng and Foong Zi Yu. Audrey and Zi Yu are making their debuts.
World No. 70 Ashley will be aiming to improve on the tied 12th placing which made her the best-placed Malaysian in the previous edition in Japan two years ago.
Natasha finished sole 27th in 2019 and was our best-finisher at tied 29th in the inaugural edition in Singapore in 2018.
The WAAP is one of the most important events on the calendar for players from the Asia-Pacific region as the winner will earn a start in two Major championships – the Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship.
The champion will also get to play in the US LPGA Tour’s Hana Bank Championship in South Korea and an invitation to compete in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.