Maha and caddie ahead of the 2013 Sanya Ladies Open at Yalong Bay GC

Maha Haddioui is excited to be making her first visit to China to play in the Sanya Ladies Open after recording a career-best tie for 20th place in the last LET event three weeks ago at the LACOSTE Ladies Open de France.

The 25-year-old LET rookie professional from Agadir feels that she could be on the brink of a breakthrough that could see her keep her tour card for the 2014 season.

Currently ranked 122nd on the LET ISPS HANDA Order of Merit, she needs a sprint to the end of the 2013 season if she is to keep the full playing status she earned at Lalla Aicha Tour School in Marrakech in December – but there will be plenty willing her on in support of the first and only Moroccan player on the LET.

Maha has the unique honour of being the first Moroccan to compete in a professional golf tournament in China, which is quite something, given the growth of the game in the country.

She received an invitation from the organisers at Yalong Bay Golf Club in Sanya and has also been offered an invitation to play in next week’s China Suzhou Taihu Open north of Shanghai.

“It’s pretty exciting. I finished 20th in France so my game has been pretty good and the putting is good. It’s quite different grass here but it’s closer to what I’m used to at home. Top ten is the goal,” she said.

After playing a practice round on the Robert Trent Jones-designed course at Yalong Bay Golf Club, she said:  “It’s a really good course and quite challenging when there is wind. Some of the holes are pretty long and it’s quite tricky and the bunkers are well thought through because they are always in the landing areas. It’s a really good course and very challenging.”

US college educated Maha’s results on Tour have been mixed so far but she feels that she is now comfortable with life as a travelling golf professional.

“It’s been tougher than I thought it would be, as in, the travelling and everything. The level is very good but it’s more the capacity of getting used to being on the go all the time and being ready every week. That has been the toughest thing, and preparing the visas and the travelling and the hotels. It gets tiring and when you get used to it you only have three tournaments left so that’s the tough thing about it,” she said.

Pressure to perform is now paramount, but she is keeping cool with four tournaments remaining on the 2013 LET schedule.

“I’m trying to just focus on every shot and every tournament individually and whatever happens, happens. If you focus on the longer term outcome you can’t focus on what you’re doing here and now.

“I’ve been working on my routine mainly so I’ve included more breathing and visualising of the shots. I haven’t touched the swing but it’s starting to become better thanks to the routine work and visualisation of the shots.

“I feel better with my game and more confident, even though the pressure of keeping the card is starting to come into account.”