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LPGA Event To Tee Off In Thailand

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LPGA event to tee off in Thailand

Local golf fans will have a chance to see some of the world's best women players in action in an LPGA event in Thailand for the first time in October at the Amata Spring Country Club in Chonburi.

The US$1.3 million Honda LPGA Thailand tournament, which will be held from October 20-22, will be open to the world's top 50 women golfers on the LPGA money list with 10 vacancies for invited players.

The inaugural LPGA tournament is the first of three to be held in Asia with the others taking place in South Korea and Japan. The last big women's tournament held in Thailand was the Thailand Ladies Open last year at the Alpine Golf Club.

Although the organisers could not confirm if any of the big-name players have entered October's tournament, they said there is a distinct possibility of 2005 world No 1 Annika Sorenstam of Sweden taking part.

Sorenstam is managed by IMG, one of the tournament co-organisers, and would be making her maiden visit to Thailand if she plays.

The only player confirmed is Thai ace Virada Nirapathpongporn, who will get an exemption into the event as she is backed by Japanese company Honda, the main tournament sponsor.

"I feel proud that our country will host an LPGA event for the first time, which will be great for the fans who will see the top players. I'm pretty sure that my fellow players will enjoy it and will come back to compete again," said Virada, who is now at No 56 on the LPGA money list.

IMG Asia Pacific managing director Martin Jolly said South Korean-Thai twins Aree and Naree Song are also possible entrants.

"They are in our consideration to be invited to play here, but it depends on the players themselves too," he said. "The cut-off will be done in September and until then we will find out who wants to rest, has injuries or wants to compete here."

Apart from the professional players, a few locals will be invited to play through a qualifying competition which will be staged by Channel 7, one of the organisers, later this year.

"We want to give an opportunity for rising stars to play in a world-class event which is very difficult for them to get in. But she has to win the qualification rounds to prove that she really deserves this chance," said Surang Prempree of Channel 7.

Apart from the overall $1.3 million in prize money, Honda will give away a brand new Civic car to any player who hits a hole-in-one.

Source: The Nation - 18 May 2006

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