Muni He
Muni He

Pin-up with a winning smile

sports February 23, 2019 01:00

By Lerpong Amsa-ngiam
The Nation

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But He also has steely resolve to reach the top.

A year after crowds flocked to watch her at the Honda LPGA Thailand, Chinese pin-up Muni He is back at the Siam Country Club Old Course, as charming as ever but with improved quality in her game.

The 19-year-old is now a fully fledged member of the LPGA after finishing tied for 27th at the 2018 LPGA Q-School, which earned her a full card for the 2019 LPGA season.

The Chinese teenager, who received a sponsors’ invitation into the tournament last year, has proved over the last 12 months that she now has the game to compete at the highest level after clinching her maiden tour title in Ohio last July.

“I totally am [surprised by her popularity in Thailand] but it’s so great, so amazing to be able to interact with the fans here and on social media as well,” said He, who comes from Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan.

Her ability to garner universal admiration is understandable – even in the scorching heat or after she has failed to make a shot she remains unfalteringly pleasant to the fans, never failing to offer an infectious smile.

“I enjoy the game and the challenge, no matter if I play well or I have a bad day,” she said. “It’s always the chase. I’m really thankful for people liking me and coming up to me. I can give nothing but friendliness back.”

At the halfway stage of this year’s LPGA Thailand, Muni stands on three-under-par 141 and is tied for … a dramatic improvement on last year, when she finished bottom of the field.

“Overall I think my game has improved a lot from last year. I hope I can put up some more good scores over the weekend,” said He, who spent two semesters at the University of Southern California before turning pro in December 2017.

“I really wanted to come back to Thailand again this year to see how much I’ve improved. I’ve been working really, really hard and I know my game has improved.”

Despite her satisfaction with the last 12 months, He feels no pressure to excel in her first year on the LPGA Tour and points out she still needs time to be battle-hardened.

“As a tour rookie, I don’t set super high goals,” she added. “I still need to learn more from the professional players in order to become a more competitive.”

Like many other players, He is also enjoying her return to Thailand because it gives her the opportunity to indluklge in the Kingsom’s world-famous cuisine.

One of her favourite dishes is som tum (spicy papaya salad), which originates in Isaan province and tallies perfectly with her background – Sichuan is renowned for its spicy style of Chinese cooking.

 “I love anything spicy,” says He. “The little red chili peppers here are really delicious and I add them to everything.”

Asked if she has special someone in her life, He preferred to keep it a secret. But she never minds to give tips about her dream man.

“He has to be someone who is very nice and caring. He has to like me for me. Someone who can make me laugh and has a good sense of humour,” she added.

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