Seri Kembangan, June 14: The 28th edition of the Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open (MLAO) is expected to be a sizzling affair with a new title sponsor coming onboard as well as a strong line-up of regional competitors awaiting to snatch the championship from Malaysian hands.
The tournament will undergo a minor re-branding this year after organisers Malaysian Ladies Golf Association (MALGA) unveiled a three-year partnership with Bermaz Motors Sdn Bhd, the official distributor of Mazda in Malaysia.
Mazda has not only pledged to reward any participant who sinks a hole-in-one during the three-day tournament from July 19-21 with a brand new Mazda 2 Sedan but will also lend a hand to MALGA’s pioneering ‘Golf for Girls’ programme, which has suffered in recent years due to a lack of funding.
The tournament will return to The Mines Resort & Golf Club where over 120 top lady amateurs from around the region will tee-off, with strong participation expected from Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. The 2010 edition, won by local Diana Tham Shen Yen, saw entries from over 11 countries.
The press conference which was held today at the tournament venue, also saw the attendance of Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) president Admiral (R) Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Mohd Anwar Mohd Nor alongside his counterpart from MALGA, Tunku Puteri Puan Sri Dato’ Seri Jawahir Almarhum Tuanku Ja’afar, in growing signs of goodwill and co-operation between the two associations.
Mohd Anwar had pledged upon his election as MGA president last month, that he will work towards ending the impasse between the associations, which has hindered the development of golf in Malaysia.
MALGA executive director Dato’ Rabeahtul Aloya Abbas said the tournament has proven to be a fertile breeding ground for the country’s top women juniors looking to turn professional.
“It’s a critical tournament as the juniors have the chance to taste the world of professional golfing. They are up against top players from other countries, and if they do well, it is a great stepping stone towards getting a professional ladies ranking,” she said, noting that the local challenge will be ably lead by defending champion Tham, 2009 winner Michelle Koh, nation’s top amateur Kelly Tan Guet Chen and Malaysian Amateur Open champion Aretha Pan Herng.
“A prime example of the tournament’s success is Chua Tze Jean, who turned professional shortly after finishing second at the 2009 MLAO and this year became the first Malaysian to qualify for the US Open in the last five years,” she added.
Koh, who plays for Campbell University, has displayed good form this season, notching four top twenty showings on the collegiate circuit. A career best third-place tie in the A-Sun Championship saw the 18-year-old Kuantan-born lass selected to the All-Conference second team.
Tan will be fresh from her intensive training stint in Florida and the 17-year-old will be raring to make amends for he runner-up finish last year. She clinched her first Hurricane Junior Golf Tour victory in April, winning by five strokes.
Seventeen-year-old Pan has displayed tremendous form after returning from a five-week MALGA sponsored intensive training in Gold Coast, Australia earlier this year. She was placed amongst the top two in all her tournaments so far this year, having also won the 2011 Malaysian School Sports National Championship in March.
The Mazda Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open 2011 will feature three divisions in the individual category and additionally a team category, which awards the best team based on overall player scores. Malaysia captured the team title last year after stellar performances across the board last year and will certainly be looking for a repeat performances.