Social game: India’s Sharmila Nicollet sets sights on Hong Kong Ladies Open challenge

The 26-year-old Indian-French player is among 117 competitors from 16 countries set to take on defending champion Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching at Fanling

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 June, 2017, 3:44pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 June, 2017, 11:50pm

India’s Sharmila Nicollet may have earned her start at the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open on Friday through more conventional means than social media, but is still determined to mark her comeback from injury with a strong showing at Fanling as the “cream of the crop in Asia” compete in the increasingly popular US$150,000 event.

Nicollet is one of five Indian players featuring this week at the Old Course, with a total of 117 competitors from 16 countries set to challenge defending champion and new Hong Kong professional Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching for the title over the three days.

The 26-year-old Nicollet returned to Hong Kong, having finished 37th last year, after winning a Twitter poll to earn a start in last week’s ShopRite Classic on the top-level LPGA Tour in the US, with her 360,000 followers proving crucial.

“Modern life is all about social media. It was a great idea by ShopRite as well. My non-golfing followers didn’t know what the LPGA was, but suddenly everyone got interested and it started a huge media hype and it was good for awareness,” said Bangalore-born Indian-French player Nicollet.

Nicollet is a two-time winner of India’s women’s order of merit after claiming 14 wins between 2009 and 2016, and is seventh on the money list after five events this year, although she missed the cut last week on the LPGA Tour.

“I just played on the LPGA Tour and it was a great experience for me, although it was very challenging to be in the company of the greatest players in the world,” she said.

“I learned a lot and I know what I need to improve and this tournament will help me work on the areas of my game as I will be playing in the LPGA qualifiers in August as well as other tournaments.

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“This is a tough tournament, a lot of other Indians wanted to get in, so I don’t know what to expect but it is going to be great.”

Singapore’s Koh Sock Hwee is another looking to take advantage of a spot in this week’s field after receiving an invite from title sponsor EFG.

Kok claimed a top 10 finish in Thailand at the end of May and made the trip to Hong Kong after also featuring in last week’s China Tour event in Beijing.

“I feel good about my game, I feel the greens here are a bit tricky, but I am looking forward to a good week,” she said having turned pro last year.

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“I feel from last year to this I have improved and the hard work is paying off, so I feel like this invite is recognition for that.

“China is tough and I am relishing the challenge, but I wish the steps were moving faster. I guess the cream of the crop in Asia are here this week.”