Ever since she turned pro in June, Natasha Andrea Oon has faced a myriad of challenges that are not uncommon for a standout amateur transitioning to life as a professional golfer. Budgeting, scheduling, injury prevention and confidence on the course are important aspects of life on Tour but learning to manage it all can be overwhelming.

“It’s really easy like in college life to just go with the wave because everything is planned out for you,” said Oon, a 2021 graduate from San Jose State University. “Now it’s like everything is in your hands. It’s just been like how do I make sure I’m taking care of myself while playing every single week? Like when to book flights, how to rent cars, where to stay in tournaments, where and when can I see my coach? It’s just been a whirlwind.”

Luckily for the 21-year-old, she has a seasoned mentor to guide her as she sets her sights on becoming a member of the LPGA Tour: seven-time major champion and 31-time LPGA Tour winner Juli Inkster. Both San Jose State alumnae, Inkster and Oon have played together and interacted often. But since Oon was awarded the Juli Inkster Senior Award in June, which goes to the highest-ranked collegiate senior, Inkster and award sponsor Workday have been able to provide even more support.

“I just didn’t want to put my name on a trophy. I really wanted to be involved with their career,” Inkster said. “If they have someone in their right pocket they can call… I think it really helps them. And Workday helps them financially, and they don’t have to worry about getting sponsors. They can go out there on their own and make a name for themselves.”

With the award, Oon earned a sponsor exemption into the AmazingCre Portland Classic, which will be her fourth event on the LPGA Tour. She earned her best finish of T49 in her most recent start at the Dana Open presented by Marathon. Now, she is ready to earn another strong finish on Tour as she prepares herself to achieve her lifelong dream of becoming an LPGA Tour member.

“Juli making this award a thing has helped me so much free my mind up to play these amazing tournaments and expose me so much to these really, really competitive level type of golf games,” Oon said. “Just the pressure out there, managing my expectations, having weeks of just LPGA golf just makes me feel like a little bit more ready to just be out there next year, to try and just qualify my way into LPGA.”

Inkster believes the Malaysia-born golfer is up to the challenge.

“I don’t think she realizes how good she is yet, and I think when she gets more comfortable out here she’s going to have a successful life on Tour,” Inkster said. “The thing that I think she has that a lot of players don’t is she likes the hunt. I’ve seen her and her scores on Saturday and Sunday how she plays well. I don’t think you can teach that. I think you just have that.”

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