Asia's best strut their stuff in mainland tournament

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 January, 2005, 12:00am

The second leg of the Ladies Asian Golf Tour tees off at Wu Yi Fountain Palm Golf Club on Thursday. Yesterday's pro-am gave most of the 140-strong field the opportunity to sample the 6,713-yard course, which was designed by Jack Nicklaus Jnr.

Asian players have become a dominant force on the LPGA Tour in the US over the past few years, and some of the players in the field this week are thought to be good enough to board a plane to the US.

China's Li Yingye is one of those expected to make a strong bid for the US$12,000 top prize this week. Li made history last year by becoming the first mainland player to qualify for the women's US Open, where she made the cut but finished well down the field after a poor third round.

The 26-year-old from Shanghai then went on to gain playing rights for this year's LPGA Tour after successfully negotiating her way through the LPGA Tour school in September. 'I expect to do well this week,' said Li after yesterday's pro-am. 'I like this course and the greens are firm and fast, which is just how I like them.'

Korea's Park Hee-young is another player who likes the Wu Yi layout, especially after being part of the Korean Queen Sirikit Cup team who claimed victory here last April.

Park turned pro at the end of last year after winning a pro event while still an amateur on the Korean Ladies Tour, and then won her first tournament as a professional last week in Taiwan. In wet and windy conditions she shot a three-round total of six-under-par 216.

'I'm feeling very comfortable with my game right now,' said the 17-year-old. 'I know this course very well after playing here last year so I hope to be in contention in the final round on Saturday.'

Compatriot Moon Hyun-hee, who won yesterday's pro-am, will be one of the players out to prevent Park from winning her second event this week. Moon won two weeks ago in the TLPGA Open in Taiwan, and is ranked sixth on the Korean LPGA Tour.


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