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LPGA closely monitoring events in Thailand

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With Thailand declaring a state of emergency last week over anti-government unrest, the LPGA is monitoring developments as it prepares to play a tour event there in less than a month.

Embattled Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra declared a state of emergency rule in Bangkok and surrounding areas in response to escalating protests against her authority. The Honda LPGA Thailand is scheduled to be played Feb. 20-23 in Chonburi, about an hour’s drive south and east of Bangkok.

Reuters reported Tuesday that the Thai government is pushing ahead with a general election on Sunday despite warnings it could end in violence and leave the country without a functioning administration for six months.

The Thailand Golf Association announced last week that it was postponing the Thailand Open, a men’s event sanctioned by the OneAsia Tour and Japan Golf Tour. It was scheduled for March but will be moved to later in the year.

The LPGA has a security team led by Joe Funk.

“The LPGA fully recognizes the current unrest in Thailand and has closely followed the `state of emergency’ tied to civil protests,” LPGA communications chief Kraig Kann told GolfChannel.com in an email. “While this is not a new occurrence in the country, we – along with our security team - are taking the issues seriously and are monitoring the situation.

“As has been the case in recent years in Thailand, these protests are focused on citizens addressing their concerns with government actions and not focused on foreigners/visitors.

“Currently, the protests have not ventured from the city of Bangkok, nor have they been anywhere near Pattaya, where the Honda LPGA Thailand event is centered.

“Should the situation change, we feel like we have a suitable plan in place. In the meantime, we feel extremely confident that the event will go on as scheduled – safely and without incident. After a terrific start to our season at the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA last week, we look forward to our upcoming overseas swing which includes the Honda LPGA Thailand.”

Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park, No. 2 Suzann Pettersen, No. 3 Stacy Lewis and No. 4 Lydia Ko are all committed to play in Thailand in what is shaping up as a stellar field with the top nine players in the world all scheduled to compete.

Lewis told GolfChannel.com Tuesday that she has been following the developments in Thailand.

“I plan on going to play,” Lewis said. “I think we have a great staff on tour in charge of security, and they do a great job of making sure places are safe for us. They’re not going to let us go if it’s not safe, but it is definitely something we pay attention to.”

Lexi Thompson, the second highest ranked American in the world, also is committed to play. Her agent said he’ll be paying close attention to what’s happening there.

“I’m aware and concerned, and we’re closely monitoring the situation and will continue to do so,” said Bobby Kreusler, Thompson’s agent. “As of right now, hopefully, things are acceptable to make the trip. But if anything changes, we’ll make another decision.”