Kerr Highlights LPGAs First Visit to Thailand


2006 Honda LPGA-ThailandFor the first time in the LPGA Tour's history, 60 golfers will make the long journey to Thailand for the inaugural Honda LPGA Thailand 2006 this week at Amata Spring Country Club. This event marks the first of three Global Group tournaments in Asia for the LPGA Tour. The player who earns the most points in the three tournaments combined will automatically qualify for the season-ending ADT Championship via the LPGA Playoffs 2006. No other playoff points will be awarded during the three-week swing.
American Cristie Kerr highlights the inaugural event. Kerr currently ranks fourth on the ADT Official Money List with $1,502,190 in season earnings after having won three events this season. Kerr is coming off a tie for sixth at the Samsung World Championship on Sunday. The nine-time Tour champion won the Franklin American Mortgage Championship benefiting the Monroe Carell, Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, the CN Canadian Women's Open and the John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic presented by SemGroup in 2006.
The tournament in Thailand marks a homecoming of sorts for three LPGA Tour players in the field: rookie Virada Nirapathpongporn; Stacy Prammanasudh; and Aree Song. All three players will look to notch their first-career victory. Nirapathpongporn grew up in Bangkok, Thailand, before moving to the United States to attend Duke University. Nirapathpongporn has played well in her first season on Tour with her highest finish coming at the LPGA Corning Classic in May, where she tied for fifth. She has currently earned $133,568 in her first season on Tour. She also finished 11th in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race this season with 223 points.
Prammanasudh, whose father is from Thailand, is enjoying her best season on Tour with $610,757 in season earnings to date. She has recorded six top-10 finishes this year and moved up to 17th this week on the ADT Official Money List after a fourth-place finish at the Samsung World Championship. Her best finish came in August at the Wendy's Championship for Children, where she tied for second. She also tied for third place at the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA. She currently leads the second half ADT Points race of the LPGA Playoffs 2006 with 125 points. However, if she earns the most cumulative points during the Asia swing, she will win the Global Group and automatically qualify for the ADT Championship.
Song will feel right at home this week as she was born in Thailand. The 20-year-old is in her third season on Tour and has accumulated $838,660 in career earnings and $217,188 this season. She has posted five top-20 finishes this season, including a third-place finish at the Safeway International Presented by Coca-Cola. Song's career best finish came during her rookie season at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, one of four major championships on the LPGA Tour.
The Honda LPGA Thailand 2006 was added to the schedule this year, which means that the LPGA will contest tournaments in 10 different countries this year.
Amata Spring challenges golfers with island green LPGA Tour players will get the true island experience when they arrive in Thailand this week.
Amata Spring Country Club is home to a challenging golf course thanks to lakes, rivers, mountains, strong cross winds and steep elevation changes. But designer Lee Schmidt did not think that was enough. Skill and accuracy will be tested when competitors set up on the 17th tee and look to the flagstick on Asia's only island green. On the par-3, 145-yard hole, hitting the green in regulation is more than something to be desired, it is a necessity as a missed green means a lost ball into the water. Once all golf balls are safely on the green, golfers will be ferried to the green by boat.
Opened in November 2005, the Amata Spring Country Club named LPGA Tour member Virada Nirapathpongporn as the club professional. One day after the club celebrates its 11-month anniversary, the Honda LPGA Thailand 2006 begins as the first LPGA Tour event ever hosted in the country.
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