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Taiwan Open joins the Asian Tour

The Taiwan Open, celebrating its 40th anniversary, has sealed an agreement to be part of the thriving Asian Tour this season, officials confirmed today.

The US$300,000 event will be staged at North Bay Golf and Country Club from September 23-26, the week after the Mercuries Masters which is also staged in Taipei . Last year's winner Jason Dawes of Australia will defend his crown.

Leading players from Chinese Taipei including Lin Keng-chi, the Asian number one in 1995, Lin Wen-tang, third in last year's event and winner of the recent ROC PGA Championship, and Yeh Wei-tze are expected to lead the local assault in this year's tournament.

"We are delighted to welcome on board the Taiwan Open," said Louis Martin, Chief Executive, Asian Tour.

"The tournament is rich in history and tradition and will enjoy an historic milestone with its 40th edition this month. With confirmation of the Taiwan Open forming part of the Asian Tour Schedule, we will now provide a 22-event calendar for our talented members this season with record total prize money of nearly US$12 million. This is a major boost for the Asian Tour."

Inaugurated in 1965, the Taiwan Open has often produced great winners in the past, with legendary Chinese Taipei's Hsieh Min-nan, Chen Tze-ming and Lu Liang-huan being former champions. Other top Asians who have tasted victory include Korea 's Kang Wook-soon and Filipino Frankie Minoza.

The Taiwan Open has also attracted international stars in the past with Greg Norman and John Jacobs featuring in the event. Fijian Vijay Singh, who took over the world number one ranking from Tiger Woods this week, won the title in 2000.

"It is a privilege for the Taiwan Open to be sanctioned by the Asian Tour this year. This will ensure that the best players from the region will battle it out at North Bay later this month for the title, where the coveted trophy includes some great names," said K.C. Liao, spokesman for the Taiwan Open.

"This fine championship has been held for many years and has gained tremendous recognition from professional golfers from around the world. It is also our hope that this tournament will further raise the standard of Asian golf."

Apart from producing fine champions, the Taiwan Open has also provided some notable achievements in the past. South Africa 's Gary Player became the oldest player to play in all four rounds in a Tour event in Asia when he made the cut in the 2002 edition at the age of 66 years and 323 days.

It contrast, Chinese Taipei amateur star Lo Shih-kai became the youngest to play in all four rounds last year at the age of 14 years and 275 days.

The Taiwan Open will be the 16th leg of the Asian Tour this season. The winner will take home a cheque of US$50,000.

Last year, Australian Dawes romped to an eight-shot victory at Sunrise Golf and Country Club, shooting a four-day total of four-under-par 284 in blustery conditions. He was the only player in the field to shoot under par that week.

The Asian Tour travels to Seoul this week for the Kolon Korean Open at Woo Jung Hills Country Club.

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