By LERPONG AMSA-NGIAM
The 18-year-old from Phuket, whose six wins over the course of 12 months occurred twice in China, one in Taiwan and three at home, will make her debut in the home LPGA event through wildcards along with 2017 Symetra Tour No 1 player Benyapa Niphatsophon and one-time Ladies European Tour winner Supamas Sangchan. “I’m happy to be given this opportunity and will maximise all efforts to prove to all my supporters that I’m worth being given this opportunity,” said Saranporn who is currently playing in the Women’s Oates Victorian Open Championship.
However, the teenager will test her mettle against world class players in the Women’s Australian Open, a week before the Thailand stop, which will be her first appearance on the LPGA ambience.
“It will be a good opportunity to get used to this level before Thailand. In fact I have played with some LPGA players before in overseas tournaments but never on an LPGA level,” added Saraporn, who has won a haul of 13 titles over the past three years.
“I’ve never played at Siam Country Club before but I know I have to avoid making mistakes there. If I can handle the pressure fast, I shall get some good results.”
Saranporn will among the six Thais in action in the country’s richest golf event which offers a total prize money of US$1.6 million. Other Thais featuring in the event are world No 7 Ariya Jutanugarn, her sister and world No 22 Moriya, and No 87 Pornanong Phatlum. All of them will try to be the first Thai winner of the event with Ariya coming a close second in the 2013 edition.
A total of nine out of the world’s top 10 players have already signed up for the tournament, the third on the LPGA calendar this year after Bahas and Australia. In-kyung Kim of South Korea, the world No 8, is the only top 10 player to skip the event.
World No 3 Park Sung-hyun will make her first appearance in the tournament and her “K-Pop Boy-Band” look is expected to draw huge attention from fans.
Pitak Pruittisarikorn, chief operating officer, Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co, Ltd said: “The Honda LPGA Thailand tournament has always been joined by top world-class female golfers with a total of 60 players from the LPGA Official Priority List 2018 and 10 from sponsor invites.”
Boo Mee Lee of South Korea, the 2016 Japan LPGA Tour No 1, compatriot Ha Neul Kim, winner of three Japand LPGA Tour last year and Chinese upandcoming Muni Lilly He are among the invitees.
An all-new Honda CR-V, the 1.6L i-DTEC DIESEL TURBO engine (DT-EL 4WD) worth 1,699,000 baht will be given to the player who shoots the first Hole-In-One on the 16th hole as a special bonus.
“Prior to tee-off, the Honda LPGA THAILAND 2018 players will participate in off-course activities for a good cause, including a charity event that provides scholarships and sports equipment to help local schools in Chonburi; and Honda LPGA Charity Night, which includes an auction of LPGA Players' memorabilia items where all proceeds will go to Siriraj Foundation. We are carrying on our tradition of giving young golfers, Honda customers and people who are interested in golf a chance to fulfil their dreams by giving them a hands-on experience of learning golf techniques with world-class professional golfers in the tournament through our annual Golf Clinic sessions.. ,” Mr. Pitak added.
Miss Winnie Heng, Vice President and Managing Director, IMG (Thailand), said “IMG is honored to partner with title sponsor Honda for 12 years, and we aim to deliver better experiences for all fans and spectators. The host venue, one of the players’ favourite golf courses in Asia, Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course, is ready to host the top players with impeccable condition and newly refurbished facilities. Fans and spectators can look forward to a variety of fun and interactive activities, such as golf schools, the ‘Chip-for-Charity’ contest, several local and international food and beverage offerings and live concerts each evening after play finishes throughout the four days of the tournament.”
Mr. Thitiporn Jutimanon, TV Director of 9MCOT HD, said, “As the official host broadcaster, MCOT is fully prepared to bring the fun and excitement of Honda LPGA THAILAND 2018 to golf fans through broadcast on 9 MCOT HD channel No. 30 in full HD from 22-25 February 2018. In addition to live broadcast of the tournament, viewers will not miss any iconic moment of the tournament with exclusive scoops and news content from MCOT. We are determined to bring our commitment to delivering good sport content to live, and believe that our various media channels, including television, radio and online, will provide greater convenience for viewers to enjoy Honda LPGA THAILAND 2018.”
Early bird tickets of Honda LPGA THAILAND 2018 are now available onwww.hondalpgathailand.com for a limited period until February 18. Ticket for 22 and 23 February’s one-day pass is 300 baht (from 350 baht), 24 and 25 February’s one-day pass is 400 baht (from 550 baht), weekend two-day pass is 500 baht (from 950 baht) and four-day pass is 800 baht (from 1,200 baht). Children of 16 years old and below and senior citizens over 60 years old are entitled to complimentary entry to the tournament.