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European Tour hopefuls tee off in Siem Reap

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Jackie Tulya of Thailand won in 2017. AFP

European Tour hopefuls tee off in Siem Reap

After Tuesday’s practice session and feel of the award-winning Sir Nick Faldo-designed course, 10 aspiring tour pros from five countries will be in high spirits for Wednesday’s tee-off at Siem Reap’s Angkor Golf Resort (AGR) for the Ladies European Tour (LET) Q-School Pre-Qualifier C.

The four-round LET Lalla Aicha Tour event is a gateway for female players to compete at an elite level globally, and the last six winners have gone on to achieve phenomenal success.

The top finishers in the Cambodian leg will move up to the final stage of the Qualifying School that doles out tour cards for the new season to compete at the highest level.

For the second consecutive year, Amelkis Golf Club and Palm Golf Ourika (Morocco) will play host to the Final Stage in December, with two fields playing both courses twice ahead of the final round to be held at Amelkis Golf Club.

The five-round event will test the skills and stamina of the rising stars of the game under intense pressure to gain their 2019 Ladies European Tour cards.

To make it all the way to Morocco, the players will have advanced from the pre-qualifying stage or finished in the top 25 of the world amateur golf rankings. Players who are in the top 100 of the Rolex women’s world golf rankings or who narrowly missed out on a full card via the LET access series are also eligible.

The AGR earned plaudits from both the competitors and LET for its organisational excellence last year, marking Cambodia out as a popular destination.

Thailand’s Jackie Chulya won the event last year, and despite the field being small, it was highly competitive and the AGR’s head professional Alan Martin is optimistic over a similar build-up this year.

The significance of the qualifying process has been heightened by the fact that the last six winners have gone on to achieve phenomenal success.

Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, who won the first Lalla Aicha Tour School at Al Maaden in 2012, is now a two-time Major who has twice held the World No1 spot, including as recently as July, following her victory in the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open.

She, along with the 2014 and 2015 medallists, Aditi Ashok and Nanna Koerstz Madsen from India and Denmark respectively, have won multiple tournaments and played in the historic Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Meanwhile, Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom, the winner in 2016, advanced directly to the European Solheim Cup team.

“The golf course is in top condition as always and it seems like rainy season is over. So, the course will be a little firmer than in previous years,’’ noted Alan Martin.

“It’s a great honour to host such an event for the LET. We are hopeful of developing this event into a main Tour Event with Live TV coverage that will help raise the profile of golf in Cambodia.

“The ladies will play the course at around 6,200 yards – a good test – and they will probably have to score under par to progress to Morocco,” the AGR’s head professional said.

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