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LET visits Thailand for the first time

The Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour breaks new ground this week when it visits Thailand for the first time in its 26-year history.

A field of 132 competitors from the LET, the Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) and the Thailand Ladies Golf Association (TALGA) will battle it out in the US$330, 000 Thailand Ladies Open at the Alpine Golf and Sports Club located in Pathumthani, near Bangkok , the multi-cultural capital of Thailand .

Top female golfers headlining the event include Maria Hjorth from Sweden, the current leader of the 2005 LET Money list ranking, Korean star Bo Bae Song, who won the LET's first event of the season, the Samsung Ladies Masters, and Charlotta Sorenstam, whose runner-up finish to Song has placed her firmly in contention for her second Solheim Cup appearance this year in the US following her debut in 1998 at Muirfield Village.

Other strong contenders for the title include 2004 Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year Minea Blomqvist from Finland , the 20-year-old blonde whose talents were highlighted by her two rounds of 62 and a maiden victory on the LET at the OTP Bank Central European Open in Hungary last year.

Elisa Serramia Neundorf from Spain , who leads the current 2005 Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year standings, is also in the field and will be vying for her maiden Tour title.

And Chairman of the LET, Karen Lunn, makes a welcome return to Thailand along with her sister Mardi. They both captured the title when it was a fixture on the LAGT between 1987 and 2003.

The 22-year-old Thai star Virada Nirapathpongporn is also in the field and is sure to be the local favourite.

But Hjorth, who earned her maiden LET victory at the Ladies English Open in 2004, is in fine form following her tie for third place in the ANZ Ladies Masters last month and is feeling positive about the week ahead.

"I've made some swing changes over the last year and I'm feeling a lot more confident," said the 32-year-old from Falun.

"Before, I wasn't confident enough to take those swing changes onto the course but I've been practising and I've improved and now I feel confident with both my short game and my long game.

"I got a lot of Solheim Cup points in Australia , so a win here would be huge for me, especially as I'm spending so much time in America .

"It's always fun to have new tournaments on the calendar and because they have hosted the Johnnie Walker Classic at this course in 2000 and 2004 it's going to be well run and there should be a lot of support from the local people.

"I hope we have a strong crowd and hopefully people will see that it's interesting to watch women play golf as well as the men."

Sorenstam, who has just competed in the Kraft Nabisco Championship in America last week, which her sister Annika won in supreme fashion, was also feeling confident about the week to come.

"I've been training with my coach, Henri Reis for the last couple of weeks and my aim is not just to play well but to win a tournament," said the blonde Swede from Stockholm .

"I did okay last week but I made a few errors off the tee. If I can sort those out then I think I will be able to score well here this week.

"Of course I'd love to play in the Solheim Cup but it's a long way to go between now and September. I think I would have a lot to offer as a team mate and I think it would be really fun to play.

"I think Europe 's chances are good this year. We scared them over the last couple of years and they always thought they were unbeatable but now they know they're not!"


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