Professional golfer Jean Chua, 24, has become the first Malaysian woman in five years to qualify for the US Women’s Open Championship in Colarado Springs from July 7 to 10.
In a qualifier played earlier in the week in North Carolina, she tied for first place with Lauren Doughtie of Canada.
“This is unbelievable. I’m really excited. I actually wasn’t sure if I had already qualified or if I had another qualifying round and I had to check withthe tournament director,” said Jean in a statement issued by the Malaysian Ladies Golf Association (MALGA).
Jean, who is currently ranked 463rd in the women’s world golf rankings, has been based in Raleigh, North Carolina since mid-2010.
Her last professional outing was in the Australian Masters in January where she tied for 23rd place with an overall score of 275 (-13).
Jean will spend the next few weeks preparing for what will be the biggest challenge of her career and she hopes to do her country proud.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for me to put Malaysian women’s golf on the map and I am looking forward to giving it my all,” she said.
The last Malaysian woman to participate in the US Open was Lim Siew-Ai, who finished tied for 49th in the 2006 edition.
Jean, who only picked up the sport at the age of 14 in 2001 with the encouragement of her uncle, took less than six months to hit her firsthole-in-one.
She was invited to join the national team under the tutelage of MALGA.
After winning a large number of amateur tournaments with the support of MALGA for the next three years, she managed to secure a golf scholarship at the prestigious Wake Forrest University in North Carolina, where she studied from2005 to 2009.
After completing her Mass Communication Degree and enjoying a glittering college golf career with the Wake Forrest University Women’s Golf Team, Jean returned to Malaysia to compete in the 2009 Malaysian Amateur Open, where she finished second.
Turning pro almost immediately after in August 2009, she won her first tournament on the professional circuit when she took home top honours in the Thai LPGA Open.
After a short stint in Bangkok, she returned to the US, where she currently trains under her new coach Ian Triggs.
“It is great to see Jean qualify for the US Open and make the country and especially MALGA proud,” said MALGA president Tunku Puteri Tunku Jawahir.
“We wish her all the best and will be supporting her as much as we can,” she added.
Chua is currently not sponsored, with her family footing the bill for all ofher training and other expenses.