Sports

Teenage An a driver for Vietnamese golf

Lê Chúc An impressed in almost all the tournaments she played in 2023.

Golf

329266 an 1 | FDI Việt Nam
Lê Chúc An is currently Việt Nam’s No 1 female golfer. Photo courtesy of VGA

Thanh Hà

The champion of the 2023 Việt Nam Junior Open was Lê Chúc An. The winner of the 2023 National Golf Championship was Lê Chúc An. The best amateur athlete of the 2023 Vinpearl DIC Legends Việt Nam was Lê Chúc An.

Lê Chúc An impressed in almost all the tournaments she played in 2023.

The 16-year-old was voted the Female Golfer of the Year and Young Female Golfer of the Year at the annual VGA Golf Awards organised recently in Hà Nội.

The teen is expected to help Việt Nam narrow the gap with the rest of the golf world soon.

Golf genuine

Born in 2008 in Hà Nội, An fell in love with the game when she followed her father to golf courses in her childhood.

331274 an1 | FDI Việt Nam
Lê Chúc An began playing golf when she was 10. After six years, she has grabbed 30 trophies from junior and senior competitions. — Photo courtesy of VGA

She wondered why the tiny balls could fly so far and asked her father for a try.

“My father plays golf, and he guided me when I was 10,” An said.

“About a year later, I believed that I was in love with golf and participated in national tournaments. The more I played, the more I wanted to master golf.”

In her first national junior tournament VJO in 2019, An took a title in the girls’ U12 category, leaving her rivals far behind.

Since then, she has taken part in numerous events around the country and made a strong impression everywhere.

Among them, the highlights were the 2022 National Match Play Championship title, 2022 National Sports Games’ bronze and a slot in the national team taking part in the 31st SEA Games.

“My best memory was the 2021 FCA Spring Golf Tournament. It was an event for senior players, and I was just 13,” An said.

331271 an2 | FDI Việt Nam
Lê Chúc An is the Female Player of the Year and Young Female of the Year at the 2023 VGA Awards. — Photo courtesy of VGA

She has shown her remarkable progress through international junior events and pro competitions such as the Lexus Challenges and National Golf Championships, where she overcame many senior players to become national No 1.

“Each tournament brings me a different experience. After each event, I review my good and bad points and work to improve all mistakes for the next ones,” An said.

“Before each competition, I list what I need to do and check the courses’ yardages to ensure that I could have the highest results.”

2022 and 2023 were a booming time for the teen.

An finished second in the VJO and became the first golfer to score a hole-in-one at the national championship in 2022.

A year later, she beat all title candidates to take the top podium of both events along with two awards of Best Amateur and Team Alliance, when grouping with legends Emanuele Canonica and Simon Khan at the Vinpearl DIC Legends Việt Nam.

“The VJO 2022 was one of my good tournaments as I prepared well and was focused on every swing, which helped me reach my expected (second) place. The year 2023 was my great year as I won the National Championship for the first time. It is a career milestone, reminding me to try hard every day and that I can reach my better version in the later competitions,” An said.

331273 an4 | FDI Việt Nam
Lê Chúc An (centre) and teammates at the 32nd SEA Games last May in Cambodia. — Photo courtesy of VGA

Her performance helped An jump to No 504 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings.

Higher target

Coach Nguyễn Thị Thu Hà said An had proved her ability recently. After only six years of practising and competing, An, who has a fierce style and strong attack, saw great performance to progress and become Việt Nam’s No 1 female player.

An, who celebrated her 16th birthday on February 5, said she spends around six to seven hours per day practising golf, in which 70 per cent is spent on her short game for putting, chipping and pitching.

“Golf is a tough sport. If a player does not love it, no one, especially girls my age, would spend dozens of hours per week walking around the golf course under the sun and the rain for years,” An said.

331272 an3 | FDI Việt Nam
Lê Chúc An says she is still on the way to improving. — Photo courtesy of VGA

“It is difficult, but the difficulty is interesting and makes me want to pursue and conquer it. Sometimes, I suffer high pressure, but I have never thought about giving up. It is a strong motivation for me to train harder and compete better.”

Last week, the Việt Nam Golf Association announced the national squad, in which An is one of 16 members. They will be the Vietnamese representatives in international tournaments in 2024.

“I feel truly grateful for everyone’s attention and support over the years. Attending tournaments, especially major international ones, really brings me a lot of joy,” An said.

“I am in a period of learning and improving, so competitions will also give me valuable experiences and lessons for higher results in my career.”

Theo Vietnamnews