A fourteen-year-old girl from Siem Reap has been invited to take part in an international golfing championship in Malaysia. Despite only playing golf for the last four months, Tevy Sareoun is in Kuala Lumpur participating in the SportExcel-Ambank-Crest Link International Junior Golf Championship 2013.
The three-day play-off finishes today.
Tevy was introduced to the game a mere four months ago, when her foster parents Claire and Christian Weidemann-Massart started having lessons with Phokeethra Country Club golf coach David Maxwell.
She says she saw them playing and thought she’d have a go, and is now hooked.
“I like it because it’s fun,” she says. “My favourite thing is practicing my swing.”
Maxwell says both he and Angkor Golf Resort’s director of golf David Baron were extremely impressed with her skills. The two men have been jointly coaching Tevy at their respective golf clubs.
Maxwell says, “I met this young girl, I was curious so I gave her a lot of drills to do, a lot of work to do, and she did them. She has a gift for learning – I will show her a shot and she will copy. If I say, ‘hit me a highball,’ she will hit me a highball. David Baron and I work together – he said three months ago that she’s got a great golf swing.”
Baron agrees that when he first saw Tevy play, he was impressed.
“Her ability immediately stood out as there are not many junior golfers here in Cambodia,” he says. “She already had sound fundamentals and good physical strength. I later learnt that she had been receiving tuition from David at Phokeethra, and he's done a great job.”
A few weeks into coaching, Baron was approached by the Junior Golf Championship organisers, asking for recommendations for a Cambodian representative.
“Tevy immediately came to mind,” he says. “After her parents had agreed, it was then down to David and I too fast track her progress for her to be ready on time as this is a big step up for her. David continued to develop her long game and course knowledge, whilst I agreed to help further develop her short game at Angkor Golf Resort.”
Maxwell admits he was initially hesitant about Tevy joining the competition, for players aged12-18.
“They asked me and at first I said there’s no way she can play – this is one of the best international youth tournaments in Asia,” he says. “She has no handicap; she’s played 18 holes maybe only three times.
“She’s going to play against the best Asian golfers, so we will be last. But we’re going to do our best, and she’s going to represent her country. Personally, I think it’s phenomenal.”
Tevy’s mother Claire says, “We are being realistic, as David advises. But we said, “Yes, let’s do it. It’s a chance.’
“We will be there with our little Cambodian flags. She’s a foster child, she loves golf, and she’s practiced well. She could have talent, so why not represent Cambodia?”
Baron says regardless of the outcome, Tevy’s participation is a step forward for junior golf development in Cambodia, and he hopes it will inspire other young people to explore the game.
“Tevy will be up against some stiff opposition in Malaysia, playing against far more experienced golfers. However, in this case, the result is irrelevant but the experience will be priceless.
“Tevy is already a winner for taking part and I am sure this experience will propel her to the next level.”