Title sponsor Sime Darby and event organiser IMG have confirmed the final field of 75 players who will participate in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia 2014, which celebrates its fifth anniversary at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) on October 9-12.
Rising stars Charley Hull from England and China’s Xiyu Lin will both join the festivities at KLGCC when the tournament gets underway on the East Course next Thursday. 18-year-old Hull, who also received a sponsor exemption in 2013 and tied in 45th place, was the Ladies European Tour (LET) Rookie of the Year in 2013. That same year she was the youngest player in history to be part of a Solheim Cup team when she helped Team Europe overcome Team USA. LPGA rookie Lin joins the tournament having made her first top-ten finish on tour, tying for 9th place at the Portland Classic at the end of August.
Speaking about her sponsor invite, Hull said, “I am delighted to be invited back to the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. I played the tournament for the first time last year and it was certainly a great experience to go up against such a strong field. I found the conditions challenging so I will need to manage that but I’m looking forward to playing there again and I am very grateful to Sime Darby for the opportunity.”
Places were also awarded to Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and the Philippines’ Jennifer Rosales. Jutanugarn returns as a professional to the tournament where she was the best placed amateur in 2012. She also finished that year second on the Amateur World Rankings before making a big impact on the professional game in 2013. Returning from injury, she will be looking to make her mark as a professional in Kuala Lumpur in 2014.
Rosales has been competing on the LPGA Tour for a number of years and became the first Filipino to win a LPGA event when she won the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship in 2004. Competing in last year’s tournament, she finished T52.
Jutanugarn said, “I’m really looking forward to coming back to the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. It’s a fantastic tournament which brings back many happy memories for me. The course isn’t the longest but ball placement is so important – I’ll be giving it my best shot. Thank you to Sime Darby and I look forward to getting back on the greens at KLGCC next week.”
American Natalie Gulbis also returns to Kuala Lumpur for the tournament’s birthday celebrations. Gulbis received an exemption based on her continued dedication to the sport following her LPGA debut as an amateur in 1997. Since then she has achieved much success in the game, including winning the 2007 Evian Masters. She has always proved a favourite among Malaysian fans and has shown support over the years for the tournament’s official charitable partner, Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation (CARIF).
Malaysian fans will have plenty of local talent to support in the form of six Malaysian Angels. Recognising their progress in the professional game, Michelle Koh, Ainil Bakar, Michele Low, Kelly Tan, Jean Chua and Aretha Pan have all received sponsor exemptions to the US$ 2 million tournament. The final place was awarded to Thailand’s Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul following her victory at last month’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia Regional Qualifier.
The Chairman of Sime Darby Foundation, Tun Musa Hitam, said, “It is our pleasure to extend these invitations to players who show considerable promise for the future as well as players who continue to impress with their commitment to the sport. All the players that have been invited personify the tournament’s maxim ‘Women with Drive’. They have been, and will continue to be fine ambassadors for the sport. We hope they benefit from the experience of competing alongside the best in the world and we wish them every success at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia 2014.”
The 2014 field of 75 boasts eight of the world’s top ten professional golfers with 41 of the top 50 from the LPGA Tour Official Money List. Representing a total of 18 countries stretching from New Zealand, Paraguay and South Africa in the southern hemisphere, to Norway, Sweden and Japan in the north, the players are part of a wider group of 63 of the world’s best golfers from the LPGA Tour and includes defending champions Lexi Thompson, World No.1 Stacy Lewis, World No.3 Lydia Ko and World No.4 Suzann Pettersen. (*Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, 29 September 2014)
As in past years, several Korean competitors will present a formidable challenge at this year’s tournament. It was Lexi Thompson who broke the hat trick of victories achieved by Jimin Kang (2010), Na Yeon Choi (2011) and Inbee Park (2012). Former World No.1 Park misses this year’s tournament due to her own wedding commitments but competitors can be sure that the likes of in-form So Yeon Ryu will be up for the task.
Spectators at this year’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia will enjoy first- class entertainment both on and off the fairways as KLGCC transforms itself into a festival destination for the duration of the tournament, complete with live music, street art, a showcase of Malaysian and international cuisine, health and beauty treatments, and activities for all ages to enjoy.
Highlights of Sime Darby LPGA festivities include Ladies Day (Friday), Pink Saturday and Family Day (Sunday), each with its own distinct character, designed to appeal to different members of the community. At the Poolside Fiesta spectators will be able to enjoy an eclectic mix of live music between 3pm and 6pm each day from a variety of leading local artists and DJ’s including Patricia K, Atilia, and Bihzhu, ensuring that the party continues well after the last ball drops at the end of each day’s play.
Tickets for the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia 2014 are available at www.ticketpro.com.my, Ticketpro outlets and Ticketpro hotline +603 7880 7999.