World’s most lucrative women’s golf Tour to debut in China


Beijing : The world’s most lucrative women’s golf tour arrives in China this October. The inaugural Grand China Air Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) that features world No.2 Annika Sorenstam and the sixth-ranked Tseng Yani, will be held from October 24-26 at Hainan West Coast Golf Club in Haikou, the capital of the island province of Hainan.

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The tournament featuring 63 of the world’s best players will compete for $1.8 million.

It will be the first time the LPGA has staged an event in China, one of the world’s fastest-growing golfing markets, and will be the richest tournament on the LPGA’s annual end-of-year Asian swing.

The stars of the show are sure to be the dominant Sorenstam from Sweden and rising star Tseng.

Appropriately for the landmark event, the Swede tagged by Tiger Woods as the ‘greatest female player of all time’ earlier this year, will journey to China as part of her final season of competitive golf.

Having nearly 90 career victories world-wide since 1992, the 37-year-old announced in May that this season would be her swansong on the LPGA Tour. However, she is planning to go out on top, having already notched three victories so far in 2008, and is focused on winning the inaugural Grand China Air LPGA trophy.

Sorenstam said: “Having visited China several times as part of my course-design business, I believe the Grand China Air LPGA will be a major milestone for the LPGA, taking elite women’s golf to one of the world’s most dynamic countries.”

Meanwhile, Tseng, despite her youth at just 19 years of age, will be far from overawed at the prospect of joining Sorenstam in the elite Grand China Air LPGA field.

The second-year professional from Chinese Taipei graduated from a decorated international amateur career in style this year when she became the first LPGA rookie in 10 years to claim a Major, and also the first Chinese player winning an LPGA major.

Currently sixth on the LPGA Official Money List, Tseng has had a brilliant start to her professional career. Victories on both the Asian Ladies Golf Tour and the Canadian Women’s Tour last season, her first as a professional, were followed by a sixth-place finish at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn exempt status for 2008.

Three top-10s, including two runner-up finishes, in her first six events got Tseng’s LPGA career off to a fast start, before her breakthrough victory at the LPGA Championship in June.

The player field for the inaugural Grand China Air LPGA will be made up of the leading 51 available players on the LPGA Official Money List as of September 28, 2008, plus eight Chinese professionals and four invitations.