When Kitty Tam Yik-ching picked up a golf club at the age of six, she had no idea what the sport was all about. "I only played because my parents said if I didn't, I had to stay in the hotel room by myself," she says.
Yet as soon as the 2014 Student of the Year Sportsperson winner stepped onto the golf course, she felt great about herself. As an eight-year-old, she took part in her first youth tournament and came third. "My father thought I was quite good at the sport so I continued to play in youth tournaments, but it was just for fun. Thoughts of my becoming a pro never crossed our minds until I went up against professionals and won," she says.
In the Le Coq Sportif Golf Championship in 2012, Kitty took on professional golfers from the mainland, and was crowned champion at the age of 15. "It was certainly a huge confidence boost to beat professionals," she says.
A Form Six student at Diocesan Girls' School, Kitty has been on the Hong Kong golf team since she was 12. Along with high-quality training, she also gets to play golf all over the world.
The Hong Kong team train in San Diego, California, US, every summer. This led Kitty to consider playing in college golf tournaments in the US as a stepping stone towards achieving her dream of becoming a professional golfer. "I really like San Diego. There is a golf course by the sea with a great view and the weather there is lovely," she says. "I have a sports scholarship to attend San Diego State University [this autumn] and I will be participating in NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] tournaments."
While Kitty says she doesn't have a golf idol, she really admires South Korea's female golfers. "It is amazing to see them produce so many great players in such a short time," she adds.
As an Asian, Kitty admits that she might not be as physically gifted as golfers from the West, but what she lacks in strength, she makes up for in strategy. "I am very serious with my pre-game preparation," she says. "I will scout the course, write notes and come up with a game plan. I really like this because I get to make my own decisions. On the golf course, you get to call the shots. That's what I like most about golf."
Kitty thinks winning the Student of the Year Sportsperson award is recognition of her hard work, along with a little bit of luck.
"One of the members on the judging panel was Mr Kenneth Fok Kai-kong, who was the chief of the Hong Kong team at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympics. I was on the team and I think I made a good impression on him and the rest of the panel by sharing my experiences about the Games," she says.