Honda LPGA Thailand aims to take Asian golf to the next level

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Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, the current world number 1 ranked player, will spearhead the home challenge for glory at the 2019 Honda LPGA Thailand women’s golf championship, being held at Siam Country Club ‘Old Course’ in Pattaya from February 21-24. (AP Photo)
Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, the current world number 1 ranked player, will spearhead the home challenge for glory at the 2019 Honda LPGA Thailand women’s golf championship, being held at Siam Country Club ‘Old Course’ in Pattaya from February 21-24. (AP Photo)

‘Dream Big’ is the concept theme for the 2019 Honda LPGA Thailand women’s golf championship and it’s a message that Thailand’s female golfing stars will carry with them when the tournament tees-off in Pattaya next week.

The 13th edition of this key stop on the Asian swing of the LPGA Tour will once again be held at its traditional home, the pristine Siam Country Club ‘Old Course’ from February 21-24.

Interest in the home players will greater than ever this time around as Thailand, inspired and supported by more than a decade of Honda LPGA Thailand tournaments, is beginning to reap the rewards of a grass root programme that continue to identify and nurture young golfing talent through the junior ranks and up to the professional level. The results have been spectacular and the kingdom is now on the verge of challenging the established powerhouses of South Korea and the USA for dominance on the LPGA Tour.

Leading the charge for the home players at Siam Country Club will be Ariya Jutanugarn who made her debut at this event back in 2007, aged just 11 years old. Her prodigious talent was already apparent even at that early age and she has since gone on to fulfill her potential, winning major titles around the globe and topping the world player rankings on two separate occasions.

Joining Ariya at Siam Country Club will be her older sister Moriya Jutanugarn, who recorded her maiden victory on the LPGA Tour last year at the HUGEL-JTBC LA Open in Los Angeles and in doing so made her and Ariya only the second pair of siblings to win on the Tour after Sweden’s Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam.

Making up a triumvirate of local stars to watch will be the always colourful and popular Pornanong Pathlum who came agonizingly close to capturing the Women’s British Open title at Royal Lytham & St. Annes last year, a tournament where 15-year old Thai golfer Atthaya Thitikul won the leading amateur title just a year after becoming the youngest ever winner of a ladies professional golf tournament at the 2017 Ladies European Thailand Championship.

Thidapa Suwannapura, Wichanee Meechai, Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphang and Pannapat Thanapolboonyaras will also be flying the flag for Thailand as they aim to take on the world’s best players in Pattaya.

The main international challenge is expected to come from defending champion Jessica Korda and 2016 winner Lexi Thompson of the USA, Canadian superstar Brook Henderson, Lydia Ko and Minjee Lee representing New Zealand and Australia respectively and the leading South Korean stars Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu, Inbee Park and two-time Honda LPGA Thailand champion Amy Yang.

The tournament will feature 70 female golfers, including 57 professionals from the 2019 LPGA Priority List, the winner of the 2019 ISPS Handa Vic Open and the 2019 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, which will wrap up on 17 February. On top of that, another listed golfer is Eun-Hee Ji, the winner of 2019 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, as well as nine invited players, including Benyapa “Gift” Niphatsophon, the winner of the Honda LPGA Thailand National Qualifiers.

The week leading up to the tournament will also include a ‘Dream Big’ charity night where the LPGA players will auction off personal items of memorabilia, with all the proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity Thailand, a foundation which initiates sustainable housing projects in disadvantaged communities.

Home to the tournament since 2007, Pattaya’s Siam Country Club will provide a spectacular setting for the 13th Honda LPGA Thailand event and the ‘Old Course’, measuring in at over 6,500 yards and frequently rated a ‘favourite’ on the LPGA Tour, will test all the players’ skills and fortitude to the maximum.

Atthaya Thitikul is one of a host of young players looking to make an impact at this year’s Honda LPGA Thailand golf championship.
Atthaya Thitikul is one of a host of young players looking to make an impact at this year’s Honda LPGA Thailand golf championship.

To complement the action out on the course, there will be a multitude of fun and interactive golf exhibits for fans and spectators to enjoy in the corporate area set out in front of the clubhouse on each day of the tournament.

It all points to the 2019 Honda LPGA Thailand being the biggest and best edition yet of this prestigious event which continues to advance the game the golf in Thailand and beyond.

For ticket information, visit website: www.hondalpgathailand.com.