Hua Hin, Thailand: Victoria Tip-Aucha will create history this week when she becomes the first female to play on the MENA Tour.
Born and brought up in the United States, 15-year-old Tip-Aucha has her game trending in the right direction following a string of firsts on junior circuits both in America and Thailand that have set optimistic wheels spinning.
With all the hype swirling around her participation in the MahaSamutr Masters, how she performs against stronger players under pressure will be one of the most appealing storylines of the tournament. But she remains unruffled and wants to savour every moment to the full.
“This is a new challenge for me and I love challenges because they offer me an opportunity to grow in some way and stretch my creative muscles. Really looking forward to it,” said Tip-Aucha, who is of Thai heritage.
The teenager who has already won five times on the Thailand girls golf circuit this year, added: “I’m grateful to MahaSamutr Country Club for inviting me to compete in this year’s MahaSamutr Masters at Banyan Golf Club. I truly value their gesture. I’m not playing to prove anything, but just loved the idea of playing in a men’s event. Simple as that.
“I hope the experience of playing alongside MENA Tour players will stand me in good stead and that will be the biggest takeaway from the tournament.”
Among Tip-Aucha’s most notable achievements to date, she won the 47th Virginia State Golf Association Championship and the Junior All-Star at Chantilly National, both in 2016.
“My immediate goal is to post a strong finish, but I can’t really control all of it. What I can control is how hard I try and what I can do. What I can do is to have fun and just play the best I can,” she added.
There is no rule against women playing in men’s Tour events, but only a few, including Annika Sorenstam, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson have attempted the feat since Babe Didrikson Zaharaias, the first woman to play against men in a PGA Tour event in 1938.
“We are delighted to have Victoria join our tournament. She is charismatic, she is skillful and her presence will keep the atmosphere buzzing,” said Veeranat Limprasutr, Head of Business Development and Director of Operations at MahaSamutr Country Club in Hua Hin.
Mohamed Juma Buamaim, Chairman of the MENA Tour, said: “It’s ground-breaking for the Tour as Victoria is making her first foray into a men’s event. She is a special talent, one who combines feminine grace with power and technique, making her a suitable candidate for a strong ambassador for the future of women’s golf.
“We will be watching her progress during the tournament with keen interest. We just want her to play well and enjoy every moment,” he said.
The 54-hole MahaSamutr Masters, part of a three-event Thailand swing of the MENA Tour, is due to tee-off tomorrow.
An initiative of the Shaikh Maktoum Golf Foundation, the MENA Golf Tour was created in 2011 with the aim of developing golf in the region. It is affiliated to The R&A and the Arab Golf Federation and enjoys the Official World Golf Ranking status.
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