Trio to lead local charge

Kelly Tan in action during the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia in 2014 ©Eddie Putera|TCH
Kelly Tan in action during the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia in 2014 ©Eddie Putera|TCH

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s top three ranked professionals Kelly Tan, Michelle Koh and Ainil Bakar have been awarded starts for the upcoming US$2 million Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia in October.

The 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.

Ranked 93rd on the LPGA Money List, tour regular Kelly will bank on the familiar grounds of Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club, combined with the support she can expect on the East Course, to jump start a flat campaign on the global tour this year.

She has struggled to make an impact in her second full season, missing the cut on nine occasions with a T25 finish at the Kingsmill Championship Presented by JTBC as her best showing.

“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 my home crowd,” said the 21-year-old Johorean.

“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!”

Kelly’s former national stablemate Michelle is currently ranked fourth on the China LPGA Tour Order after picking up her professional breakthrough at the CTBC Shanghai Ladies Classic in June.

The 25-year-old Kuantan lass advanced through the first stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament last week and will look to build some momentum ahead of her trip back to America for the second stage in late October.

“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 your homeground,” she noted.

Meanwhile, Ainil continues to make her way up the world rankings since turning professional in 2012 and plies her trade on the Ladies European Tour’s Access Series.

“Thank you to Sime Darby. 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.”

A minimum of two additional places will be made available for Malaysian players at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia Local Qualifying Tournament slated for next month.