11 Down, 1 To Go

The runner-up at the 2006 Women’s Mid-Amateur, Thuhashini Selvaratnam was a member of Arizona’s winning team at the 2007 Women’s State Team Championship. (Chris Keane/USGA) 
By Hunki Yun, USGA
September 21, 2011

Virginia Beach, Va. – When many college graduates decide to take a year off before entering the workforce or starting graduate school, a common activity is backpacking through Europe.  

Thuhashini “Tui” Selvaratnam was an uncommon graduate of Arizona State University in 1999, so she took off to Asia to play golf tournaments. She started in her native Sri Lanka, where she won the Sri Lanka Amateur for the third time. She then went to Singapore, where she won the amateur championship, followed by Hong Kong, China, Thailand and so on. She kept winning in more countries until she won the United Arab Emirates Amateur in early 2000.   

“I just wanted to relax and take some time off,” said Selvaratnam, who lost in the quarterfinal round of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur at Bayville Golf Club. “So I started playing all these amateur events in Asia. I won 11 national championships in seven months.”    

That number of different championships may be a record, but nobody knows for sure. But Selvaratnam does hold one distinction verified by the ultimate arbiter: Guinness. The next time you’re looking to recoup your losses from an on-course wager, ask your opponents to name the youngest national golf champion.    

After fielding guesses like Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie and Alexis Thompson, just be prepared to not stumble over Selvaratnam’s name. She was 12 when she won her first Sri Lanka Amateur. 

Having confounded trophy presenters around the world and with her wanderlust sated, Selvaratnam returned to Arizona in 2000 to work at the Arizona Golf Association on a P.J. Boatwright Jr. Internship. And she kept playing, collecting enough trophies and points to be named the player of the year by the Arizona Women’s Golf Association (AWGA) for 10 consecutive years, from 2001 to 2010. 

“She’s a legend in Arizona women’s golf,” said Mary Pomroy, the executive director of the AWGA. In addition to her playing credentials, the 35-year-old Selvaratnam has contributed to golf in the Grand Canyon State by serving on the AWGA’s board. 

“Having played all over the world, Tui brings a lot of golf knowledge to our organization,” said Pomroy. “She provides input to our tournaments and she connects well to our younger players.” 

Selvaratnam has forged a strong connection to golf’s next generation with her current job as the golf coach at Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix. Founded by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the only all-girls school in Arizona, Xavier has the most dominant scholastic golf program in the country. Under the guidance of Sister Lynn Winsor, the team has won 28 state titles since 1980 and alumnae include Heather Farr, Grace Park, Amanda Blumenherst and Cheyenne Woods.   

Sister Winsor, also the school’s athletic director, now shares coaching duties with Selvaratnam, an arrangement that allows the Sri Lankan native to play in championships around the country like the Women’s Mid-Amateur and the upcoming Women’s State Team at The Landings Club in Savannah, Ga. 

“She’s great with the girls,” said Sister Winsor, who started coaching in 1974. “She’s so knowledgeable about the Rules, and she knows the ins and outs of the short game. I value her very, very much.” 

Although her position doesn’t allow the kinds of international trips she used to take – Selvaratnam hasn’t been to Sri Lanka in nearly three years – she has been able to play tournament golf during the summer and into the school year. 

“I enjoy coaching,” said Selvaratnam. “I get to share my experiences. And the school is very supportive and that’s why I get to play in events like these.” 

Few amateur golfers have played in as many countries as Selvaratnam has. “Golfers are similar everywhere,” she said. “Golf brings everyone together and it becomes a smaller world.” 

After settling in Arizona and the United States – she is in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen – Selvaratnam has wanted to add to her tally of national championships by winning one in the biggest golf country in the world. 

She has come close. She was a semifinalist in the 2004 Mid-Amateur and lost in the final in 2006 to Meghan Stasi. 

“I will keep trying to get that one elusive championship,” she said. “Golf is a fun sport. I hope to keep playing and one of these days. Right?” 

Get The Rules of Golf App For Your iPhone Or Android Today
Follow the USGA
Become a Facebook Fan of the USGAFollow us on Twitter @USGA
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment

AmEx image