Malaysian golfers Ainil Johani and Aretha Pan have both confirmed their participation at next week’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, following invitations from tournament sponsor Sime Darby Foundation. They will be joined by other invitation recipients, namely Scotland’s Carly Booth, Japan’s Mamiko Higa, China’s Yuting Shi and England’s Charley Hull.
The highly anticipated US$2 million tournament tees off next Thursday (October 10) at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club’s (KLGCC) East Course, with the 72-player field comprising 62 stars from the LPGA Tour and 10 sponsor’s invites.
“I am extremely honoured to be given the chance by Sime Darby to play at this year’s tournament and to represent my country at one of Asia’s leading events. Being able to pit my skills against the very best in women’s golf is not an opportunity that comes often. I’m absolutely thrilled and will be doing my very best to make my fellow Malaysians proud,” said Pan. The 19-year-old Sabahan lass, who turned pro in May this year, previously qualified for all three past editions of the tournament (2010-2012) as an amateur, finishing as the best-placed Malaysian last year with a joint 61st placing.
“I thought that earning my first championship win would be the highlight of my year, but I think this invitation comes a close second! The East Course is magnificent to play on but it can be a little tricky so I’m going to be practicing hard to keep my form. I also hope to meet some of my supporters during the tournament because that’s definitely a huge motivation to do well!” said 24-year-old Ainil, who seized her maiden pro victory at the July-played KENDA Tire TLPGA Open in Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Europe’s Solheim Cup darling Hull, who captured headlines worldwide after beating American superstar Paula Creamer 5 and 4 in the final day singles of the Solheim Cup, will not only be making her debut at the tournament but also in Asia. “I’m very grateful to Sime Darby for extending this invitation to me as it will be the first event I’ve ever played in Asia. To start with such a significant LPGA event is fantastic; I’ve heard great things about the event and I’m really excited about discovering Malaysia and Kuala Lumpur in particular,” said the 17-year-old, who only made her debut on the LPGA Tour in March this year.
“We are absolutely delighted to have them at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, competing with the very best golfers. They have shown that they have the physical and mental strength to take on the challenging game of golf at the highest standard, and I’m personally looking forward to seeing them take their game to the next level. I’m also confident that the general public will thoroughly enjoy the spectacle of watching four Malaysians as well as seeing the likes of Charley Hull and Yuting Shi competing here in the Malaysian capital,” said Tun Musa Hitam, Chairman of Sime Darby Foundation.
Malaysia’s 26-year-old Sime Darby sponsored player Jean Chua, who plays on the US-based Symetra Tour, will not be making the trip back to Malaysia for this year’s tournament having just qualified for the second stage of the LPGA Qualifying School on Monday.