Shannon Tan made history at the 2024 Magical Kenya Ladies Open, becoming the first Singaporean to win the Ladies European Tour (LET).
The 19-year-old started the day with a share of the lead alongside Italy’s Alessandra Fanali on nine under par at Vipingo Ridge.
Tan birdied holes two, three and five to put herself in pole position before dropping a shot on the sixth.
However, she made another birdie on seven before bogeying the eighth and her final birdie came on 11 for a round of 70 (-3), sealing a four-shot victory with a total of 12 under par.
“It was pretty close between us until the 16th hole, there was only one or two shots difference the whole time,” Tan said. “It was a good fight she gave me.
“I stuck to my game plan the whole time. I just tried to hit every fairway and every green I could, that was my game plan all day and it stayed that way.”
Excellent start for the LET rookie
The teenager obtained her full LET card at the Lalla Aicha Q-School in December while still an amateur and made her first start on the LET as a professional.
Leading up to this week, Tan had been in Australia, where she finished second at the January 18-21 Murray River Webex Players Series in New South Wales in January and eighth at last week’s Vic Open in Victoria.
It is Tan’s second professional victory of her career, after winning the Singapore Ladies Masters on the China LPGA Tour in July 2023, but her first since turning pro.
She explained: “It was a tough decision at first, but I’m glad I made it now! It’s a good thing that the juniors at home know that it is possible and that anything is possible, and that it can push and inspire them a little bit.
“I go into every event with the same mentality and goal and just try to do my best and stay in control. I have no control over what other people do, only what I can do. I’ll just try to stick to my game plan all season long.”
Alessandra Fanali takes second place
Italy’s Alessandra Fanali finished in second place in the season opener after posting a round of 74 (+1) on the final day.
The Italian started with a birdie on the second, but soon made a bogey on the fifth, after which she made a birdie-bogey on holes seven and eight.
Fanali made another birdie on 15, but back-to-back bogeys on 16 and 17 ended her hopes of a first LET victory.
“It was a very good week for me, I am very proud of myself,” said Fanali. “I came in this week just to test my game and see where I was.
“I tried. I gave myself a chance, but my putts weren’t really going in. It’s OK, next week is another week and we’ll see what happens.
“A few more putts would have fallen and it would have been a lot easier to catch up on some strokes on the last holes, but it is what it is. It was probably meant for me, but it’s fine.
“I am very proud of my game, I can shoot very well. My irons, off the tee, my short game was very good and my putting was also very good. I’m very happy, it was a good week to start the season and we will keep it on the road in the coming weeks.”
The rest of the field
Five players ended the week tied for third place, with Manon De Roey, Ana Peláez Trivino, Alice Hewson, Nataliya Guseva and Chiara Tamburlini all at four under par.
It was an emotional day for Tamburlini, who posted a round of 72 that included six birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey.
There were two spots up for grabs for next week’s Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF, with Tan securing the top spot and after countdown it was Tamburlini who took last place, ahead of Guseva.
Two-time LETAS winner said: “I’m very overwhelmed at the moment. It was incredible. I had quite a bumpy finish, but I was able to get myself back together. It was a great experience to be here and compete and play with all the other players.
“It’s incredible that I have just started my professional career and can play in the Aramco Saudi Ladies International. Deep down, that was my goal for this week. I thought it was too ambitious, but the fact that it came out was too good.”
Three players finished in a tie for eighth place with two-time LET winner Alexandra Försterling alongside rookies Sofie Kibsgaard Nielsen and Aunchisa Utama.
Just outside the top 10 was the German Laura Fuenfstueck who fired the round of the day with a 67 (-6).
Next week, the LET heads to Riyadh for the Aramco Saudi Ladies International, presented by PIF, which takes place from February 15 to 18.