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Local amateurs Tham, Pan earn LPGA Malaysia spots

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Diana Tham and Aretha Pan will fly the Malaysian flag in next month’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

Tham and Pan filled the top places in a 36-hole national qualifier Wednesday over the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club’s East Course.

Their reward is starting places alongside many of the world’s best female professionals, including the top five in the Rolex Rankings – Ai Miyazato, Jiyai Shin, Cristie Kerr, Yani Tseng and Suzann Pettersen.

Tham, who set the opening-day pace with a 72, followed up with a 77 to clinch victory with a 7-over 149.

She finished four shots ahead of second-place finisher Pan, who improved on her first-round 79 by five strokes. The qualifier featured 10 Malaysian players.

Tham, winner of the 27th Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open Championship, said: “ I am hoping to be paired with Natalie Gulbis who is my favorite golfer. I would like to thank . . . all the coaches of the Sime Darby LPGA Development Program for helping with my game and for helping me with my achievement today.”

Pan, 16, said mental-strength training she received while part of the Sime Darby LPGA Development Program was a crucial factor in her success. “ I learned to be able to calm my mind, and I think it helped me to perform at my best today.”

Five Malaysians will take part in the U.S. $1.8 million event at KLGCC Oct. 22-24 with Kelly Tan, Cindy Lee-Pridgen and Jean Chua having already earned their berths.

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