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Monday October 14, 2013 MYT 7:43:00 PM
Monday October 14, 2013 MYT 11:07:15 PM
by s. ramaguru
Amateur Michelle Koh was the country's best placed golfer in the just concluded Sime Darby LPGA event at 60th place. BERNAMA Photo.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia proved to be another resounding success but the lack of improvement among the local golfers leaves much to be desired.
The fourth edition, which ended at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club on Sunday, was well embraced by the world’s top golfers. Eight of the top 10 were on show in the 72-woman field. Ten were sponsors’ invites with four of them being Malaysians.
They were Michelle Koh, Cindy Lee-Pridgen, Aretha Pan and Ainil Johani Abu Bakar.
The best local performer was again an amateur. This time it was Michelle who finished in 60th place with a 10-over 294 total, which is a massive 29 strokes behind the winner.
In 2010, Kelly Tan (Tied-32nd) was the best Malaysian performer while Aretha took the accolades in 2011 (67th) and 2012 (Tied-61st) while she was an amateur. Aretha turned professional this year and the LPGA Malaysia was her first event on Malaysian soil as a pro. She finished tied-68th with Ainil, while Lee-Pridgen is one rung better at 67th.
This shows, each year, local golfers get the chance to play with the best. Unfortunately, they fail to justify their places in the championship.
But the emergence of a youthful winner gives hope that other youngsters will take up the challenge and shine on the LPGA Tour.
American Lexi Thompson secured a four-stroke win over China’s Feng Shanshan on Sunday. She also set the tournament record with her winning score of 19-under 265.
Thompson’s win in Malaysia marks the second time a teenager has won on the LPGA Tour this season. She joins Lydia Ko, the Canadian Women’s Open, as teen victors for the 2013 season.
Many believe that Thompson’s win will spearhead fresh challenge from the younger golfers.
Shanshan, who is just 24, believes Thompson’s win will motivate the youngsters to join the pro ranks.
“It’s going to be huge because it’s going to encourage a lot of the juniors to actually turn pro earlier than usual,” said Shanshan, winner of the Reignwood Classic in China on Oct 6.
Thompson, an LPGA Tour ambassador, hopes her success will motivate the youngsters to dream big.
“Being 18, I’m getting a few wins out here, I’m just really following my dreams and doing what I love. That’s what I want every kid that looks up to me to do,” she said.
For Thompson, she is looking forward to seeing another teenage prodigy Lydia Ko on the LPGA Tour. Ko recently announced her decision to turn pro and will be competing at the season-ending event, the CME Group Titleholders next month.
Like Thompson, the 16-year-old Ko has two wins on the LPGA Tour.
Meanwhile, IMG, the event organiser, is confident that the LPGA Malaysia will remain an important event for the world’s top golfers.
Said IMG’s Robbie Henchman: “The LPGA Malaysia is not just a golfing event. It encompasses golf with charity work. We raise funds for cancer research, hold coaching clinics, Pink Saturday (Cancer awareness day) and also tie up local events where the top golfers play their part in taking part in these activities.
“For example, we managed to raise RM100,000 through auction at the gala dinner. We will continue with this tradition in the years to come.
“We want to have a holistic approach to the LPGA Malaysia. The golf is just great especially when you have the best available players on the course.”
But where will our golfers stand when the next edition comes around?
Tags / Keywords:
Michelle Koh, Ainil Johani Bakar, Cindy Lee-Pridgen, Aretha Pan, Sime Darby LPGA, KLGCC, Lexi Thompson
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