Sunday, 05/11/2023 07:51

Minh's milestone makes history for golf in Việt Nam


DRIVING FORWARD: Nguyễn Anh Minh made his latest historic milestone after finishing seventh at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship 2023 in Australia. VNS Photo Hồ Như Ý

Thanh Hà

Young but talented, Vietnamese Nguyễn Anh Minh has become a history maker in the nation's golf scene.

After being a domestic phenomenon in recent years, Minh has made his name globally, being the most successful Vietnamese athlete at several prestigious competitions recently, including the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship (AAC) that ended on October 29. He has scored the best-ever achievement for Việt Nam at international events. 

TOP OF HIS GAME: Nguyễn Anh Minh walks through the green field during his competition at the Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship 2023 at the Australian Royal Melbourne. — VNS Photo Bạch Cường Khang

The AAC is an annual amateur golf tournament. It was first played in 2009 and has been organised at various locations throughout Asia-Pacific. 

Minh with a 6-over 290 finished in the top seven of the four-day ACC 2023 held at the Royal Melbourne course in Australia.

"Việt Nam's rising star Nguyễn Anh Minh secures AAC history for his nation," wrote the tour website of his outstanding achievement.

"It’s no great surprise for a 16-year-old golfer to name Rory McIlroy as one of his favourite players growing up, but the second name Nguyễn Anh Minh suggests is clear proof that the Vietnamese is cut from a different cloth," the AAC website added.

In his second tournament appearance, Minh made up a great leap, jumping from No 48 last year to No 7, creating a national record in the process.

“I am surprised that I can enter the top 7,” said Minh. “It was a tough tournament, as hard as the recent Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. Many of the strongest amateur golfers come to compete."

Coach Bạch Cường Khang, who competed twice at the AAC, appreciated Minh's achievement and said he would enjoy more success in the future.

TEAM Minh: Nguyễn Anh Minh (third, left) and teammates and coaches at the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship 2023 at the Australian Royal Melbourne. — VNS Photo Bạch Cường Khang

The Vietnamese team took part in the ACC with young players. At ages 15 and 16, the players, especially Minh competed with an iron mind and lured attention and compliments from other teams' coaches and the organisers.  

Speaking to international media, Martin Slumbers, CEO of R&A, one of three organisations that created the AAC in 2009, confirmed that it was the first time there was a Vietnamese golfer to make the top 10.

"That's exactly what the organisation wanted when the tournament was held. It was to draw in more talents from different countries and let them shine," he said.

Born to golf

Born in 2007 in Hà Nội, Minh was first introduced to golf when he was just six. He made remarkable results at the national youth championship, but his talent really shone after working with national coach Nguyễn Thái Dương.

At age 14, Minh made waves becoming the youngest champion at many major tournaments, such as the Bamboo Airways Golf Tournament - Flight to the Top, the Tiền Phong Golf Championship, and the National Golf Championship in 2021.

In March 2022, Minh dominated the international Lexus Challenge and was the first Vietnamese amateur golfer and the youngest competitor to win a local pro event. 

Minh also successfully defended his national championship with the best-ever result 5-under in the tournament's 17-year history before winning the Việt Nam Junior Open, setting the tournament record of 15-under score.

FOCUSED: Nguyễn Anh Minh has collected a number of major championship titles despite only being 16. — Photo

The result helped him advance into the world's top 200 amateur ranking.

Months later, he placed second at the Vietnam Open before becoming the first Vietnamese to win the Asian Amateur Open Championship in Thailand.

His outstanding performance helped Minh rise to the World Amateur Golf Ranking's top 100 and have his name in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time at No 1,965.

The year 2023 should be the most successful season for the teenager so far.

The youngster was the first Vietnamese golfer to win the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final in April. His performance strongly impressed Sir Nick Faldo, winner of six PGA Tour trophies and 30 DP World Tour titles.

Faldo said Minh played great, showing a wonderful and inspiring performance in unfavourable conditions. His determination, skills and talent were a good sign for young golfers in Việt Nam and Asia.

Faldo, who dominated the world rankings for years, invited Minh to compete in the Faldo Junior Tour Europe Grand Final in the UAE on November 21-23.

ON FORM: Nguyễn Anh Minh performs to win the Faldo Series Asia Grand Final in April. He is invited to compete in the Faldo Junior Tour Europe Grand Final in the UAE later this month. — VNS Photo

Minh also won one bronze and one silver at the 32nd SEA Games in his debut in May in Cambodia. The golf prodigy was also invited and helped the Asia-Pacific team to win the Bonallack Trophy, an amateur competition based on the Ryder Cup in which an Asia-Pacific team has played against a European team every two years since 1998.

Speaking about his player, the Vietnam Golf Association's Vũ Nguyên said Minh was currently the national No 1 golfer.

"We have watched him since he was playing at the U9 to U12 events. He has become a national team member with remarkable international success, and will surely go far," Vũ said. VNS

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