PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s top amateur golfer, Natasha Andrea Oon, needed a long injury layoff to put her life and game in perspective.
The 19-year-old missed the first six months of collegiate action in the United States after sustaining a stress fracture in her foot.
The injury is a small tear in a bone, often caused by overuse and repetitive force that is common in athletes.
However, it didn’t stop her from making four impressive starts for San Jose State University (SJSU) since the collegiate season resumed in August.
She finished no worse than 21st place and took two top three results: she finished second 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 bone that left me out of action for two months,” said Natasha before making her third appearance at 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 someone else, except I’m a golfer. I’ve never had that chance.
“I think it definitely helped me to rethink my way of thinking and see the game as just a sport and be more grateful and count my blessings every day because I have a healthy body.
“I’m in and just doing my best out there. The injury has taught me that there is so much more to life than golf.”
Natasha leads a strong Malaysian cast of six women, made up of various golfers from the US, including Ashley Lau, Audrey Tan, Liyana Durisic, Winnie Ng and Foong Zi Yu. Audrey and Zi Yu make their debut.
World No. 70 Ashley will aim to improve on a tie for 12th place, making her the best placed Malaysian at the previous edition in Japan two years ago.
Natasha finished only 27th in 2019 and was our best finisher in a tie for 29th at 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 play in the Hana Bank Championship of the US LPGA Tour in South Korea and will be invited to compete in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.