Malaysia's Tham and Pan claim exemptions to play in the inaugural Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia
Photos Courtesy of Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR. 22 SEPTEMBER 2010 - Diana Tham and Aretha Pan, who finished first and second respectively in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia national qualifying event played over the East Course at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC), have earned two invaluable exemptions to play in the inaugural tournament next month.
Contested over 36 holes over the last two days, the national qualifier featured 10 of Malaysia's brightest female golfers fighting for a place in the prestigious tournament. Overnight leader Tham, who scored a round of 72 yesterday, clinched victory with a final round score of 77 to finish with an aggregate total of seven-over 149.
She finished four shots ahead of second-placed Pan who shot an impressive round of 74 today, improving from her round one score of 79. Both golfers have been training for the last eight weeks under the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia Development Program, an intensive training campaign for elite young players, in preparation for the qualifier.
Said Tham, who recently clinched the 27th Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open Championship: "I am really happy to have done so well today and to now be able to play in the tournament next month. I am now hoping to be paired with Natalie Gulbis who is my favourite golfer. I would like to thank the event organisers, the sponsors and all the coaches of the Sime Darby LPGA Development Program for helping with my game and for helping me with my achievement today."
Pan, aged 16 years old, revealed that the mental strength training she received whilst a part of the Sime Darby LPGA Development Program was a crucial factor in her success today. "I am very excited to be a part of the Sime Darby LGPA Malaysia tournament next month. Having trained under the program, I learned to be able to calm my mind and I think it helped me to perform at my best today."The awarding of the exemption spots to both players means that five Malaysian golfers in total will feature against the world's best at the event, due to take place at KLGCC from 22-24 October 2010. The tournament, which will offer a purse of US$1.8 million at KLGCC from October 22-24, already boasts superstars Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr and Natalie Gulbis as confirmed participants.
It was also confirmed last week that Kerr, the current World No.3 on the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, will be joined by the rest of the world's top five players - World No.1 Ai Miyazato from Japan, along with Shin Jiyai from Korea, Yani Tseng from Chinese Taipei and Norwegian Suzann Pettersen who are currently ranked second, fourth and fifth respectively - in the tournament (Rolex Rankings as at 20 September 2010).
Dato' Tunku Putra Badlishah, Managing Director of Sime Darby Property Berhad, said, "We are delighted that Diana and Aretha will be competing against the world's best golfers for the first time ever at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. I hope this will further motivate and inspire more Malaysian girls to achieve greater success internationally in the field of golf. I am sure that the whole of Malaysia will be supporting them, as well as Kelly Tan, Cindy Lee-Pridgen and Jean Chua who will also be representing the country during the tournament next month."
Tham and Pan account for two of the 10 sponsors' exemptions on offer for the showcase event, which will also feature the top 50 players from the LPGA money list. They join Malaysian stars - Cindy Lee-Pridgen and Jean Chua - who accepted the first two sponsors' invites last month. Tiranan Yoopan from Thailand and Malaysian Kelly Tan clinched exemption spots to play in the event after securing first and second place, respectively, at the regional qualifier.
"The two exemption spots awarded to Diana and Aretha mirrors Sime Darby Berhad's long-term plan to provide opportunities for golfers in Malaysia to develop their games to a higher level. It is wonderful to see both girls thrilled with their achievement and we hope that the home support will help them bring the best out of themselves during the tournament," said Robbie Henchman, Senior Vice President of IMG.
The Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia is a three-day stroke play event with no cut, ensuring that players are in Kuala Lumpur for the tournament duration and the local and regional golf community can catch their favourite golfers in action the entire week.
For more information on the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, Follow the event on Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sime-Darby-LPGA-Malaysia/133534379995100?ref=sgm and Twitter - http://twitter.com/simedarbylpga.