As one of the few female golfers from Vietnam to participate in the Legends Tour held in Nha Trang from 26 November to 2 December 2023, Nguyễn Gia Bảo has impressively concluded the tournament in the Top 3 in the final round competing for the Best Amateur. This is an incredible achievement for her who is considered to have the lowest handicap among the golfers in the tournament.
Congratulations to you for making it to the Top 3 in the Best Amateur of the Legends Tour 2023 in Nha Trang, which featured the participation of 60 golf legends, including prominent names such as Michael Campbell, former champion of the US Open 2005 and winner of 8 European Tours; Ian Woosnam, the champion of Masters 1991 and team captain of Ryder Cup 2006; Paul McGinley, team captain of Ryder Cup 2004 and holder of 4 European Tours; and Mark James, team captain of Ryder Cup 1999 with 18 victories on the European Tour. How did you feel after achieving this result?
The tournament has just ended, and I still can’t believe that I achieved this result. It’s an unimaginable outcome, not only for myself but for all Vietnamese golfers who couldn’t have imagined such a result.
Before participating in the tournament, did you set any goals for yourself? What did you do to prepare for the tournament?
This event, called the Legends Tour, refers to a race of legends in each field. I was invited to this tournament as a KOL in the racing industry. Vietnam’s representation includes many legends, such as football legend Hồng Sơn, and volleyball beauty Kim Huệ. As for me, I am the first professional female racer from Vietnam. Additionally, I have been a golfer for almost 20 years.
When I found out that the legends would participate in the tournament, I felt very excited and quickly joined to meet those legends whom I had only heard of but found it very difficult to meet. You know, the Legends Tour has previously only been held in Europe, and now it’s in Vietnam. That’s why this is an opportunity for me to stand close to the legends, even to play golf with them.
In terms of golf skills, I didn’t prepare much before joining the tournament. Currently, I have established an academy called The Golf House. Every day at work, I usually hit a few balls, but I didn’t think I would compete. In my mind, I was participating in a friendly match with the legends. I never had any intention of achieving anything for this tournament.
During the competition, did you encounter any difficulties? How did you feel when playing alongside golf legends?
When participating in the Pro-Am round, I didn’t encounter any obstacles, but rather excitement. The legends appeared right in front of me, very real, and I had the opportunity to witness them playing golf on the course. I even got to play the same flight with them. They also watched me play, and not only that, they also gave me advice on how to improve my game.
I was also fortunate to receive a lot of encouragement and spiritual support from the legends. I am very grateful for that. This is a truly amazing experience for me. I have also learned a lot from their professional way of playing compared to my amateur status. Throughout the tournament, my passion for golf has been more intense than ever.
“I can do it if I believe I can”
As one of the few female golfers participating in this tournament and not initially highly rated, you still managed to make it to the top 3 best amateur golfers. Additionally, you even received a slot to play from the President of the Legends Tour. Did this create any pressure for you?
To be honest, my current achievement feels like a real-life fairy tale. On the Pro-Am day, I had the opportunity to play with the President of the Legends Tour. It seems like my performance made an impression on him. Additionally, the President sustained a hand injury. Perhaps due to these reasons, he surprisingly offered me his slot in the tournament. Initially, I was quite fearful upon receiving this invitation because compared to other Vietnamese golfers, my handicap is high, to put it simply, I am the least experienced golfer. Other golfers have impressive records and extensive tournament experience, while I, on the contrary, lack experience and only play for enjoyment. Therefore, I felt anxious that my golf skills might not be at a sufficient level for the competition.
Along with the fear, I also feel a lot of pressure. The pressure comes from the fact that I am still a Vietnamese golfer, and receiving the replaced slot to play from the President of the Legends Tour might make the Host and other Vietnamese golfers worried about the image. This is because the tournament is broadcasted live, so if I don’t perform well, it could potentially impact the image of Vietnamese golf.
However, in the end, both the President and Ambassador of the Legends Tour, Michael Campbell, provided me with a lot of encouragement and support. They believe that they didn’t make a mistake. The trust from the tournament’s leaders further motivated me to accept the invitation. At the same time, I also hope to do something to inspire Vietnamese women in general and female golfers in particular that “I can do it if I believe I can”.
As a woman on a field predominantly reserved for men, this may subject you to judgment, negative remarks, and even belittlement. Did these affect your competitive spirit?
In reality, my handicap truly reflected my level. The only thing that saddened me was the perception within the Vietnamese golf community regarding my capabilities. Although the Legends Tour recognized and encouraged my participation, I felt a lack of support and faced skepticism and concern from Vietnamese golfers when I received the special invitation. However, this in itself motivated me to strive for improvement, believing in myself that I can achieve it.
After this tournament, do you set the next goal for yourself? For a career as a golfer or a racer?
In fact, golf or racing is just my favorite sport. This event has intensified my determination, but it is not my direction. My path is to create golfers who embody the elements of a warrior. Beyond just the swinging technique, I want golfers to have perseverance, strong spirit, and suitable strategies for each competition. I also send a message to golfers, especially female golfers, “If you want to be in a warrior position, then you will be a warrior,” meaning you must have the will and desire within yourself.
According to you, how has the “land” for golf in Vietnam as well as local golfers changed compared to before?
Currently, golf in Vietnam is developing very strongly. This is evident through the Legends Tour coming to Vietnam, where Vietnamese golfers have had the chance to interact with world legends. Through this, they can assess their level compared to the legends. In the future, golf will definitely thrive in Vietnam, and it has all the elements to become a golf tourism destination in Asia.
People often say, “Golf is a sport only for the upper class”. What are your thoughts on this perception? What advice do you have for those who are not yet qualified to participate in this sport?
First of all, I would say that playing golf can “enrich” you. Why do I say that? Because golf is a sport that can teach you qualities that can change a person. You don’t have to be wealthy; people who work out at the gym can play golf. If you want to change your life, you must first change your mindset.
There’s a saying in the golf world: “A game of golf equals 7 days in the office”. This is because when you go out, you will meet more partners and have more opportunities. With opportunities, success is inevitable.
“If you want to change your life, you must first change your mindset”
Based on personal experience, do you have any advice for the younger generation of women to help them gain more confidence in developing themselves and pursuing their passions?
Golf is a sport of both mental and physical well-being. Daily physical training has helped me cope with the rigor of this tournament. I played 6 games each day for 6 consecutive days. The course had a lot of rain, sunshine, and wind. As time passed, my spirit and health diminished. However, thanks to consistent training, each day I played better. On the first day of the tournament, focusing on playing the last 9 holes well helped elevate me from 30th position to 18th.
On the second day, the top 15 players would advance to the next round. However, I didn’t play well in the initial holes and fell to the top 20. By the 9th hole, I regained my determination and intense focus, relied on my decision-making in club selection, and had a strategy. This helped me return to the 13th position and continue to the third day. The next day, there wasn’t much thinking when the list was the team of young players from the Vietnam national team.
At this point, I was exhausted, and I thought to just focus and “I give everything” It was the most relaxed game, a battle using my own abilities. Surprisingly, I climbed straight to the top 3. On that day, everyone struggled a lot due to exhaustion, strong winds, and rain. The top 3 position was a comeback from below.
Therefore, in order for women to feel more confident, first you have to improve your skills. I think that to do anything, first, one’s inner strength must be strong, must have the capacity to overcome pressure. At the same time, willpower also needs to be trained. For me, willpower is a type of muscle. When willpower is not strong or tired, it will affect decision-making.
Thank you for sharing!
What other GOLFERS say
Sharing about the tournament and the achievement of Nguyễn Gia Bảo, Mr. Marius Camber – Advisor to the Board of Directors of Legends Tour, stated: “The Legends Tour organized in Vietnam this time is a successful event. This is feedback from all players. The golf course is beautiful, and its quality is similar to the Augusta (USA) course. Despite the little rain and wind, our players enjoyed the tournament and achieved impressive scores. The legends were impressed by the determination and focus of the amateurs throughout the tournament. Especially, Nguyen Gia Bao is a standout golfer. She is a sports enthusiast and is always ready to support events related to sports. Her performance in this tournament can be said to be in the right place at the right time.”
“When the president of the Legends Tour decided to withdraw due to injury, he handed that position to her, instead of appointing another player as a replacement. Her 3rd-place position did not surprise me, as I had seen her play earlier in March 2023 at the promotional event RyderCup in Hanoi. She plays golf very well. This result is well-deserved, also helping attract women to participate in the Legends Tour. Perhaps next year, we will organize the Women Legends tournament.”
Meanwhile, volleyball beauty Kim Huệ, the ambassador of the tournament, shared: “This is a significant and prestigious tournament, and I am honored to be the brand ambassador for the event. From a personal perspective, this has been a successful tournament in its first year in Vietnam, setting the stage for the years to come. Through the tournament, I have made new friends, connected with legendary international golfers, and learned a great deal from their experiences and skills. Regarding Gia Bảo’s achievement as one of the Top 3 Best Amateurs, I believe it is well-deserved because of her serious and meticulous approach. Her on-court performance dispels any doubts or assessments of her abilities. Bảo demonstrates a professional demeanor, evident both on the field and in live television broadcasts. In professional sports, performance is the ultimate measure of capability and skill, and Bảo’s achievement is entirely deserving. I trust that in the near future, she will continue to progress and inspire many others, especially women, in the sport of golf”.
The BusinessWoman Magazine & Step In Style also had a quick talk with the South Korean golfer, Mr. Jay Park, he said: “It was great time to play with legend golfers. I had enough fun”. He aslo talked about Gia Bảo: “She did good job. Unfortunately I haven’t play with her, but she made good scores with tough conditions. It was very strong winds. She had good game, especially final round”.
Golfer Nguyễn Huy Tiến, who also was in Top 3 Best Amateur, shared his personal thoughts on the Legends Tour held in Vietnam. He stated: “This is one of the major tournaments, attracting many world-class golfers. Among them are champions of the US Open and Asean Tour. Organizing such a prestigious event inevitably encounters shortcomings and issues arising during the process. Nevertheless, I believe this is a successful tournament. International golfers also highly appreciate this event. It’s important to understand that most of the invited golfers were amateurs, including some professional athletes from Vietnam. Not everyone was invited to participate in this Legends Tour. All the Vietnamese golfers participated as invitees as amateur level for Pro-Am friendly and champion games. Some golfers had handicaps of -4 to -5 and found it challenging to compete with those with higher handicaps. It’s quite normal for golfers with higher handicaps to advance further. Meanwhile, amateur golfers see this as a fun playground, overcome themselves rather than showcasing their skills. Therefore, the golfers in the top 3 Best Amateur have the right to be proud because they have overcome themselves. For me, sports are about giving it your all”.
When asked about Nguyễn Gia Bảo, he shared frankly: “I think she is an energetic golfer. She came to have fun, but still made an effort. On the first day, she didn’t play very well, but by the second day, she had improved enough to make the cut and get into the top 15 golfers with the highest scores to play on the third day. In our conversation, I learned that Gia Bảo didn’t think she could make the cut, but when she did, she was very excited. On the third day, she made a great effort, even managing to play difficult holes. It’s a well-deserved reward for her”.
ABOUT THE LEGENDS TOUR
Legends Tour, formerly known as the European Senior Tour and Staysure Tour, is a professional golf tournament for male golfers over 50 years old. Five years after the first edition of the tournament – The Senior Open – was held in 1987 with Neil Coles as the champion, over 60 professional golfers proposed the establishment of an official tournament. As a result, the Legends Tour was founded in 1992. Many pioneering championship golfers who competed in the European Tour in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s are now actively involved in the Legends Tour.
In September 2020, Ryan Howsam, the CEO of Staysure Group, acquired the majority of the shares of the tournament through a groundbreaking joint venture with the European Tour, a unique arrangement in which an individual owns the majority of the shares of a professional tournament. In 2022, the Legends Tour collaborated with a prominent group of ambassadors including former Ryder Cup captains and Major winners such as Paul McGinley, Paul Lawrie, Michael Campell, Mark James, Ian Woosnam, Thomas Bjorn, and Tom Lehman. Campbell, in particular, achieved great success in his career in 2005, winning the major US Open after a fierce competition against a host of formidable competitors, including Tiger Woods.
The Legends Tour provides unique golfing experiences for amateur golfers through the Alliance Series and Wapp Celebrity Series events. These experiences offer golfers rare opportunities to interact and compete with golf legends in a highly competitive environment held at top destinations worldwide. In 2023, the Legends Tour make its first appearance in Southeast Asia, took place in Nha Trang from November 26th to December 2nd, 2023. The championship of this tournament was Brazilian golfer Adilson Da Silva in the Pro Tour. The tournament then moves to Mauritius to host the MCB Tour Championship final. Here, the winner of the 2023 Legends Tour Order of Merit will be honored with the championship title.
Content Director: NGUYEN CONG MINH | Editor: HIDA | Photo: NVCC