Malaysia’s top three women golfers, Kelly Tan, Michelle Koh and Ainil Bakar, have been awarded starts in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia 2015, which tees off at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC) this October 8-11.
The talented trio players will lead the Malaysian challenge against an all-star LPGA field set to feature household names such as Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson and Minjee Lee.
Malaysian No 1 Tan is currently 193rd in the world rankings and 93rd on the LPGA Money List. The 21-year-old from Johor is going through a lean spell on tour and is looking forward to returning to the familiar hunting grounds of KLGCC.
“I’m delighted to be coming back home in October for the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. A big thank you to the tournament sponsor Sime Darby for the chance, once again, to compete in front of a home crowd,” said Tan.
“It’s always a wonderful tournament, one that is a big hit amongst my friends on tour who just love everything about the tournament including the local food, culture, and people. I am really excited to return as a Malaysian Angel!”
25-year -old Koh is currently ranked fourth on the China LPGA Tour Order of Merit, picking up her first professional win at CTBC Shanghai Ladies Classic in June. Always a popular figure at KLGCC, she shared best Malaysian honours with Tan in last year’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia at two-over-par in 49th place.
Speaking about her return to KLGCC, Koh said: “Thank you very much to Sime Darby for the invitation to play. The tournament is always the focus of my year and I’ll be looking to build on last year’s performance. The course is very challenging but it’s a great feeling playing in front of
the home fans.”
Meanwhile 26-year-old Ainil continues to make her way up the world rankings since turning professional in 2012.
“It’s a real privilege to come and play this tournament and I hope that I can put in a good performance. My game’s been showing some good progress this year so I’m really looking forward to competing back home,” said Ainil, who plays on the Ladies European Tour and Ladies Asian Golf Tour.
Both Tan and Bakar were beneficiaries of the Sime Darby Foundation’s (YSD) funding programme earlier in their careers, with Tan being awarded YSD’s STAR scholarship in 2011 to pursue a six-month accredited college preparatory course and full-time golf programme at Pendleton School at IMG Academies in Florida. Bakar, meanwhile, received funding support for two years to compete on tour. All three players are graduates of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia Development Programme.
Continuing under the ‘Malaysian Angels’ banner, the three players are the first to receive exemptions for the tournament, which marks the start of the LPGA Tour’s late season Asian swing. A minimum of two additional places will be made available for Malaysian players at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia Local Qualifying Tournament slated for late September.
Steven Thielke, General Manager of KLGCC and Chairman of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia Organising Committee, said: “The Tournament Organising Committee has revised the criteria for awarding exemption places for the 2015 tournament. All exemptions will be awarded on merit, starting with the top three ranked Malaysians on the Women’s World Golf Rankings on 12 August. We extend our congratulations to Kelly, Michelle and Ainil on their achievement and look forward to seeing them play in October.”
The Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia 2015 sees a host of new initiatives both on and off the golf course, including live DJs, food stalls, contests and its very own KL Food Truck Festival. The sixth edition of the US$ 2 million tournament will take place on KLGCC’s East Course with a field of 75 players.
For updates, visit www.facebook.com/SimeDarbyLPGAMalaysia. Tournament activities can also be followed on Twitter and Instagram @SimeDarbyLPGA, #SimeDarbyLPGA, #WomenWithDrive.