2002: Newsmakers - Wongluekiet twins bound for Florida
By Jay A. Coffin
Aree and Naree Song Wongluekiet are heading to the University of Florida next fall – even if only for a year – Golfweek has learned.
“We’ve verbally committed to UF,” the twins jointly announced Oct. 27 to Golfweek. “We went to visit Gainesville and really liked it.”
Thus ends speculation that the Wongluekiets, 16, would turn professional and challenge the LPGA’s 18-year-old age requirement.
NCAA regulations prohibit University of Florida coach Jill Briles-Hinton from commenting on recruits until after they have signed a national letter of intent.
Gainesville is 150 miles north of the Wongluekiet’s home in Bradenton, which also is near the David Leadbetter Golf Academy, where they have received instruction for the past four years. The pair will graduate from high school in 2003 as 17-year-olds and have a full year before turning 18 (May 1, 2004), when they likely will leave college and join the LPGA.
The Wongluekiets have played in a combined 21 LPGA events the last three years. Aree has made eight cuts in 11 events and Naree has made 5 cuts in 10.
Aree made headlines in 2000, when, as a 13-year-old, she played in the final Sunday pairing with Karrie Webb and Dottie Pepper at the Nabisco Championship and tied for 10th. Naree’s best finish in an LPGA event is a tie for 29th at this year’s Wegmans Rochester.
With the addition of the Wongluekiets and Mallory Code, who also will join Florida as a freshman next fall, the Gators will add depth and become strong contenders for a national championship.
Florida’s current roster comprises two seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and three freshmen. Junior Joy Stephenson and freshmen Maria Camila Gonzalez and Tarah McNaughton have all redshirted this season and likely would see limited playing time next year with the Wongluekiets in the mix.