PETALING JAYA: Malaysian golf legend Lim Siew Ai has set her sights on a competitive comeback next year, with her main target being the 2025 US Senior Women’s Open at San Diego Country Club in California.

Over the last few years, Lim has invested much time and attention in establishing her elite golf coaching business, Masters Golf Performance, based at Glenmarie Golf & Country Club’s driving range. With the academy now running smoothly, the 48-year-old is finally able to redirect some of her boundless energy towards ticking off one of the items on her bucket list – to compete in three different United States Golf Association (USGA) events.

“It’s always been one of those bucket list things for me. I had the opportunity to play in the US Women’s Amateur when I was in college and was a quarterfinalist there. After that, I turned professional and managed to play in four U.S. Women’s Opens and made the cut in one. “So, the last USGA event that I would like to participate in would be the US Senior Women’s Open. It’d be nice to have that trifecta, to have played all three of them,” said Lim.

Following a stellar amateur career which include U.S. collegiate golf with the University of South Carolina, Lim turned professional in 1996 and set out on a ground-breaking career that saw her become the first Malaysian to compete successfully on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour. She played on the world’s leading ladies’ circuit for 10 seasons from 1999 to 2008, with her best finish being joint second at the 2004 Kellogg-Keebler Classic.

With a wry smile, Lim lamented that she has not played much golf since then, let alone competitively.

“Since I started teaching, I haven’t really played that much because I’ve been focusing a lot on the business. Many people asked, why didn’t you play in the Sime Darby LPGA and other events? But I felt that it was better for that opportunity to go to young players who have never had the chance to tee it up with the world’s best,” she said.

The roadmap for Lim’s competitive comeback is steadily taking shape. She is eligible to compete on the LPGA’s senior circuit, the Legends of the LPGA Tour, which is for golfers aged 45 and above. However, Lim will have to wait until she turns 50 next October 1st to be able to play in the US Senior Women’s Open, which explains why her target is the seventh edition at San Diego Country Club on Aug 21-24, 2025.

“I will try and play some competitive events in the States next year. I’m eligible to play on the Legends Tour, I just have to join it. I was planning to do that when I turned 45 but then Covid came and that kind of threw my plans off kilter a bit.

“I had to get my academy settled after the pandemic and train some young coaches. Now that it’s solid, that frees me up to start focusing on my preparations for one of my life goals,” Lim said.

The immediate goal for Lim is to get her body back in tune for the rigours of competitive golf. To this end, she is working with Breakfree Movement, a ground-breaking natural movement fitness facility based at Jaya One in Petaling Jaya.

“First of all, I need to get my body back in the right physical shape. I need to get my range of motion back, I need to get my flexibility back, I need to get my strength back.

“The team at Breakfree is working very closely with me right now to reclaim that range of motion. From there, it will be about learning how to develop power and strength from that range of motion,” Lim said.

Lim noted that the return of the LPGA Tour to Malaysia with the US$3 million Maybank Championship at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club this October will be a huge boost for the game here.

“I think it’s phenomenal. I’m so excited to see Maybank support the LPGA Tour. My LPGA friends that have been to Malaysia in the past just love the country, and they were disappointed when the Malaysian event was discontinued. It’s a different group of players now on tour, but I know that most LPGA professionals love Malaysia because the food’s great, it’s easy to communicate and they’re very comfortable here,” she said.

With a wide pool of talented young golfers in the country now, Lim pointed out that the tournament will serve a much-needed aspirational role in the local golf ecosystem.

“We have so many good young players right now. We’ve never had such a big group of talents before and I think it’s great that they have an opportunity to play on home soil, because that hardly ever happened when I was playing. There’s also that different pressure of playing at home, so I think it’d be good. I can’t wait to see the LPGA back in town again,” Lim added.