Illini head women’s golf coach Renee Slone announced the signing of Bishops Gate Golf Academy (BGGA) student-athlete Siyan Chen (Hangzhou, China) to a National Letter of Intent. Chen will join the Fighting Illini for the 2019-20 season.
“We are excited to welcome Siyan to the Illini women’s golf family. She has experienced success at the state, national, and international level,” said Slone.
BGGA’s Chen is a two-time qualifier for the U.S. Girls Junior Championship (2017-2018) and qualified for the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. She is a member of BGGA’s ambassador group for her senior year. She is also a two-time BGGA Player of the Year. Currently ranked No. 50 in Golfweek’s Girls Junior rankings, Chen has had 12 top-10 AJGA finishes, including top-three finishes at the 2018 Ollie Schniederjans Junior Classic, 2017 Callaway Golf Junior Classic and 2017 Doral-Publix Junior Classic. She also earned the individual title at the prestigious Scott Robertson Memorial Tournament in 2016.
As a five-time Florida Junior Tour Championship winner (2016-2017), Chen has also found success in the Sunshine State. She was the 2016 Florida State Girls Junior Champion in the Girls 13-15 division and won the 2016 Florida State Girls Junior Match Play Championship. In nearby Hilton Head Island, S.C., Chen won against some of the country’s finest junior golfers at the 2018 Sea Pines Junior Heritage Golf Tournament.
“I choose Illinois not only for the really strong academic and golf programs, but for the nice and friendly people,” said Chen. “I could feel the coaches care about everyone more than just as a player, but as a family member. The weather challenge in Illinois will be a good experience for me. I believe Illinois will be the school to prepare me well for my future career.”
In the classroom, Chen has maintained an impressive 4.17 GPA, while making the honor roll for all three years of high school. The signee is also a three-time Citizenship Award honoree and has earned Geometry and Calculus honors in 2015-16 and 2017-18, respectively. The Chinese native also enjoys giving back to the local community. During her sophomore and junior year, she taught disabled students at Lake Hills School, while also serving the homeless at a local soup kitchen in 10th grade.
“Siyan (Chen) is not only a very accomplished player, but she is also highly talented academically,” noted Slone. “She places a high priority on both academics and athletics. We look forward to aiding her in her continued growth and development throughout her collegiate journey.”
On the improvement in her game over the years, Chen said,“I think all areas of my game have improved, but the most improved part is my short game. When I first came to BGGA I shot in the 80s and now my scoring average is 73. I now play consistently in tournaments.”
“The sky is the limit for Anna,” said BGGA Senior Coach Manuel Bermudez. “It’s going be great to watch her become one of the best players in the country over the next few years. She has the desire and talent.”
“Golf teaches me a lot,” said Chen. “You need to stay calm and focused for four or five hours during a round. I have learned how to deal with and come back from bad shots and situations. And I can make many new friends!”
Chen dreams of playing on the LPGA Tour and becoming No. 1 in the world, but before that stage in her life she wants to play college golf with the goal of taking her team to the NCAAChampionship and winning the individual title.
Chen feels she’ll be more prepared for college golf life after living at BGGA. “What we do at BGGA is pretty similar to the college environment,” said Chen. “I’ve learned how to play good golf and still keep my grades up. BGGA has prepared me well for college.”
Go Fighting Allini!