LPGA Tour awaits: University of Southern California coach tips Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan to build on Olympic Games qualification
The 22-year-old Tuen Mun native has the potential to compete with the best, says USC’s Andrea Gaston
The University of Southern California’s Olympic role of honour contains the likes of multiple gold medal winning Americans Allyson Felix and Lisa Leslie – and now Hong Kong amateur golfer Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching.
The 22-year-old Tuen Mun native earned her place in the field as golf makes a return to the Olympic Games for the first time in 112 years thanks largely to her stunning Hong Kong Ladies Open win last month.
Her rise to Olympian comes as no surprise to University of Southern California (USC) head women’s golf coach Andrea Gaston.
“Clearly Tiff was one of the best junior college transfers we’ve ever gotten. She has a great mind for the game, always displays confidence, and she’s got a lot of shots in her bag.
“She loves working on all kinds of shots, but I was most impressed by how well she could hit a ‘big ol’ slice around a tree,” said Gaston after Chan switched to the division one school from Daytona State College.
Former Diocesan Girls’ School student Chan, who was awarded All-American honours in May after enjoying a successful first season representing the renowned USC golf programme, trains up to 20 hours a week during the National Collegiate Athletic Association season alongside her regular class schedule.
“I would say that her all-around game has improved since she’s had the opportunity to practise and be around a team of great players. This has challenged her to become an even better player,” said Gaston.
“Tiffany has the potential to compete on the LPGA Tour. She really loves the game and enjoys practising and just being around the game.
“The fact that she lives and breathes the game, she’s more than willing to work on all parts in order to become one of the best players.”
With golf ending its Olympics exile, Gaston believes Chan will be USC’s first current student to feature at the Games, although Brazil’s Victoria Lovelady, who is on the reserve list for Rio, is a former Trojan.
“She should just soak in the experience of being around other elite athletes from all over the world, and appreciate this tremendous opportunity to just be considered an Olympian,” said Gaston.
“It’s great to see Tiffany playing so well and having a chance to make it. It’s been a goal of hers, and being from a small country, this was very important to her.”
Chan will find it hard to match American track star Felix or basketball legend Leslie and claim gold with the field containing the majority of the players from the world’s top 10, although her Hong Kong Open victory showed she can mix it with the professionals on her day.
“Tiffany’s performance doesn’t surprise me,” said Gaston. “I know she’s hungry to have a career in golf, and she shows the potential to be able to compete with the best of the best.”