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  • Writer's picturePiers Manktelow

Get to know Hanako Kawasaki. A teenage golfer from Vietnam who has had a great start to her amateur

After the completion of the first WAAP competition in Singapore which saw the best amateurs of Asia and the Pacific do battle we chatted to Vietnamese star Hanako Kawasaki. Hanako has a Vietnamese mother and Japanese father and was raised in Vietnam. Not known for it's golfing, players like Hanako show the effect of globalization on the game which can only be a good thing for golf. Check out the interview below the latest in our series.

When did you first start playing golf?

I first started playing when I was 12, however, I only started playing competitively when I was 16

Who are/were your golfing heroes growing up?

I always admired Justin Rose for his consistency and he has one of my favorite swings. My golfing hero would have to be Ha Na Jang (below), and how she plays with such passion and elegance - also credit her for her amazing celebrations!

Is golf a popular sport in the Vietnam?

Golf is fairly popular as a recreational activity in Vietnam. Mostly business men play golf, but there are definitely minimal numbers in junior and competitive amateur golf.

How could you get more girls to play there?

I would try to encourage girls to play by organising a junior clinic or programme on the weekends. Currently in Vietnam, most girls play and practice independently which makes the sport more a chore than a hobby. As most kids (especially girls) are forced into golf by their parents, I just want them to enjoy the game more and perhaps they can do this together and make new friends in the process.

What do you like most about golf?

The unpredictability and anticipation of golf. I love how quickly the game changes with a triple bogey or a eagle. Golf is an obsession, after every pure golf shot you just want more.

What do you like to do away from golf?

I consider myself a fairly well rounded person. I regard my education very highly, and am currently taking the International Baccalaureate which is a very rigorous program. Being an active person, I am involved in many different aspects in school including: events coordinator for extra curriculars, in student council, debate team. Outside golf, I also am in the school’s basketball and volleyball team.

What was your experience of the Womens Amateur Asia Pacfic Championship? it looked like a great tournament.

I am very honored that I was able to play in such a prestigious tournament. I am constantly in awe and still look back at the experience. It was very rewarding to get to play with the world’s best players. The tournament was very well run and very hospitable to every player. I was able to make countless new friends, and in the future I hope more Vietnamese players are able to earn the WAGR journey so we can travel as a team like the other countries.

You also represented Vietnam at the South Asian Games, how was that?

Like the WAAP, the SEA games offered a medium to all of the best players in that region to showcase the talents in golf. Vietnam is still very inexperienced at this high competitive level, thus, we treated the tournament as a good experience. Although I didn’t play my best, I had a very rewarding matchplay experience on my last day, losing only 1DN. It was so fun to get to play with SEA’s best golfers and I constantly am grateful for the experience.

What is your biggest achievement so far?

Winning the Vietnam Junior Open.

What is your biggest strengths on the golf course?

My biggest strengths would have to be my accuracy and my misses. I am generally a very accurate player, and my misses are not very wide.

Areas you need to work on?

Although I am a very straight player, I would like to sacrifice some of this accuracy for a bit of distance. I regard myself as a very short hitter, and since the game is constantly getting longer and harder; getting more distance would be largely beneficial for me.

How often of you get to practice?

I practice at least three times a week in the driving range.

Goals for 2018? and for the future?

Keep on developing myself as a player, try and get my total driving distance to average 230/240 and shoot more rounds under par.

Any tips for anyone visiting Vietnam (below)?

Sunblock! It gets very hot and humid here, definitely cover up if you intend to play golf!

For someone so young Hanako comes across as a very professional person who has a high level of respect and thankfulness for what she has already achieved in the game.

We wish Hanako all the luck for the future and will keep a close eye on her progress

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