We all have our off days, but in sports, a slightly underperforming day can be the difference between an epic win or a crushing loss. Do you sit back and accept defeat, or do you pick yourself back up?
“My swing wasn’t where I wanted it to be, but I still managed to play well strategically,” says 15-year-old golfer Virginie Ding Wai-chung, referring to her winning performance at the Hong Kong Junior Close on Fanling’s New Course earlier this year.
West Island School student Virginie was neck-and-neck with friend and fellow competitor Chloe Chan, who finished with the same score. “No matter how hard we try to outplay each other, we somehow still end up together!” she says.
The winner was determined after a play-off, and Virginie defied the odds to become the overall girl’s champion. “I was the underdog so it was a shock when I found out I won,” she says, adding that she had worked a lot on her short game to prepare for the tournament.
Virginie’s success is certainly no fluke; the Hong Kong National Squad prodigy has been sinking putts for more than ten years after falling in love with the sport at an introductory summer course. “I liked trying new things when I was younger: art, tennis, gymnastics, dance … but I enjoyed golf so I kept playing,” explains Virginie.
She has been steadily improving ever since, winning tournaments in Hong Kong and the US. “I won two US tournaments back-to-back last year. They were high-level tournaments, and I was playing in an unfamiliar surrounding, so I was very proud,” Virginie says.
The wins, along with the recent Junior Close success, are standout memories for the young golfer, yet they are only a fraction of what she has achieved so far; Virginie has been tearing up the Hong Kong golf scene since 2014, where she won three tournaments in the Girls’ 11-12 category.
Having already competed in dozens of tournaments, what keeps Virginie motivated? “The spontaneous challenges
I face when I play a round of golf and the sense of euphoria when I accomplish my goals,” she says, but concedes that maintaining focus and dealing with pressure is quite challenging.
Virginie aims to master her nerves and improve her game even further by going abroad. “I want to play for a golf team at a US university known for both their golf and academics,” she says.
Fortunately, she has two very bright role models to learn from. “In golf, it’s Tiffany Chan. Academically, I look up to my sister. They have both been very successful and I aim to be like them one day,” she reveals.
Chan – eight years Virginie’s senior – is very much at the forefront of Hong Kong golf after winning last year’s EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open and finishing 13th this year. Although Virginie missed this year’s cut, she returns to training with her head held high with the knowledge that she still has plenty of time to develop.
Who knows, Hong Kong may see another golf queen in the near future …
What song/movie title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
There’s Nothing Holding Me Back – Shawn Mendes
You can take the abilities of any animal during one competition. Which do you choose and why?
I would take an eagle’s ability to see. I would be able to make more putts!
What’s your favourite thing to eat before a big event?
My go-to breakfast is oatmeal, sausages and coffee. Favourite snacks would be mixed nuts when I’m out on the course.
Which fictional character would you choose as your team mate?
10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company do you sign-on as spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
I’d like to be the spokeswoman for adidas and promote training shoes.