China’s youngest professional golfer Lin Xiyu may be playing alongside Yani Tseng at the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in China, but her ultimate goal is to meet the world number one again in five years' time on the fairways of Rio da Janeiro at the 2016 Olympics.
Despite being only 15, Lin has big dreams and a bright future. She first met Tseng, from Chinese Taipei, two years ago during the Evian Masters Junior Cup where she was competing in France.
Now Tseng is the world number one and Lin says that she has been following her career closely.
She said, through translation: “I have been focusing on Yani and I hope to go to the Olympics together to meet on the course.”
The Guangzhong native who turned professional in September is part of the Chinese National Team, receiving quality training as part of an elite development programme.
The fruits of her hard work are clear to see through her improved results in only a short one year period. A tie for ninth at the Sanya Ladies Open in 2011 was followed by a tie for fifth in the same tournament this year and now she will test herself at the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open this week.
“Last year we were preparing for the Asian Games and we just trained very hard but my level was not that high. This year I improved a lot so I’m very confident because last year I kind of freaked because I shot 66. This year I feel good in every part so I believe that I can play very well,” said Lin, whose mother was a professional footballer.
Lin has been to the United States twice this year, to qualify and play in the US Women’s Open. She shot 72, 81 in the championship, but said: “I played 30 holes in one day, because of the weather. The first round I didn’t hit any balls, the second day I played 30 holes and the third day I played six holes, so I just couldn’t find the feeling.”
Lin is still at school and alternates one month of intensive training with one month of studies along with her fellow national team members in the same age group.
While some may say that 15 is young to turn professional, Lin was encouraged by the China Golf Association, “Because we want to get the world ranking to prepare for the Olympic Games,” she added.
“The CGA said if we are turning pro, they make some cards for us and we can go abroad to play some European Tour, LPGA events and get some rankings before 2016 and maybe join in the Games.
“I think I’m a little bit young to play the Olympics but nowadays the champions are getting younger so maybe I can be faster to be the champion or something.”
Lin hopes to attend the Ladies European Tour’s Qualifying School at La Manga Club in Spain in January, but to do so she would require a special exemption from the LET’s executive director, Alexandra Armas.
She said she would rather shoot for the LET or LPGA because on the LPGA of Japan, you need a very good short game, while she feels the long game is her strength.