Golf: Jennifer Yan third in pro event

With just four holes left to play, Singapore-based golfer Jennifer Yan found herself in an unfamiliar situation on familiar ground.

Having claimed the Best Amateur award twice in a row before this year, the Suzhou Taihu Ladies' Open had always been a happy hunting ground for the Raffles Girls' School student.

It looked to get even better on Sunday, when she found herself the outright leader at the ยค400,000 (S$671,640) Ladies European Tour (LET) event after the 14th hole.

But Jennifer, playing in the fourth-last flight, could not sustain her hot hand. She bogeyed the 15th and parred the remaining three holes.

She finished with a five-under 67 and 12-under 204 total to be three shots behind eventual champion Gwladys Nocera of France and one behind runner-up Carlota Ciganda of Spain.

Still, it was Jennifer's best result in a professional tournament and the third year running she claimed the Best Amateur award.

Despite a 114-strong field that included several of the top 20 on the LET's Order of Merit, including Solheim Cup stars like England's Charley Hull whom Jennifer finished ahead of by two shots, she did not feel dwarfed.

"I wasn't intimidated playing with the big names," the 17- year-old told The Straits Times on Tuesday at the Seletar Country Club, where she trains daily.

"The gravity of that situation, to lead a professional tournament, is different from what I was used to. I was out of my comfort zone.

"I learnt a lot from that, because it takes a lot to be in a position (to win) and to close it off."

The result will likely lift Jennifer, already the top Asian at No.22 in the world amateur rankings, to within the world's top 20.

She had won the Ladies' (Strokeplay) and Girls' British Open Amateur Championships in August.

"This adds to my confidence because I didn't have results (at this level)," said the 2010 Asian Games silver medallist, who holds a China passport but grew up and lives in Singapore where she is a permanent resident.

For now, however, she is back to being a typical schoolgirl, fretting over schoolwork - in particular, the O-level Chinese examination she is scheduled to sit today.

"Sometimes I find it hard to adjust back to being a student because when I'm playing professional tournaments, I try to behave like a professional athlete," she said, adding that mathematics is her worst subject.

"I can't understand how some athletes can just switch on and off between tournament and study mode."

But her coach, Greg Anketell, has no worries about his charge.

Said the Australian: "With players like Lydia Ko doing so well, it does put the spotlight on some of the younger ones coming through. "Jen's very dedicated to her schoolwork and golf. When she practises, she's very diligent. She's very driven, and she knows what her goals are."

Added Jennifer: "There are more people starting to take note of me now, but I don't feel the weight of expectations.

"You can only play your own game. I'm still the same person, playing the same golf, constantly trying to improve."

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