return Return to 40 Under 40 Previous
Kelly Tan


Professional golfer

Naturally athletic, Malaysia’s top golfer Kelly Tan was adept at volleyball as a child. However, the physical demands of the sport, which she played as a setter, took a toll on her body. There were days she confided that she couldn’t get out of bed due to the injury sustained on her vertebrae. Concerned about her wellbeing, it was at her father’s behest that she walked away from the sport she loved. But all was not lost. Her father instead introduced her to golf.

It is a sport she grew into rather than love at first sight, Kelly confesses. The required finesse and technicality won her over and she took to it like a duck to water. Recognising the potential in her, her father hired a professional coach to sharpen her skills. It marked the start of her meteoric rise and she was only 12 years old at the time. By 14, Kelly had already been invited to train with the national team by the Malaysian Ladies Golf Association.

As a participant of the prestigious Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour, Kelly is in good form this year. She came up just short on a number of occasions, but hovering near the top has given her much- needed encouragement that her maiden LPGA Tour victory is around the corner.

Although the Tokyo Olympics has been postponed, Kelly, who is due to appear for her second Olympics having first qualified for Rio 2016, remains upbeat. “On the other positive side, it is giving me more time to prepare and get myself in the best mental and physical condition when the 2021 summer comes,” she says.