#World-class Field Assembles at KLGCC for Inaugural Tournament Where ASEAN’s Best Talent Will be on Show
THE LPGA Tour breaks new ground this week when the inaugural Maybank Championship is held on the West Course of Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.
Scheduled to start today and run through Sunday, the US$3 million event, the third leg of the four-stop Asia Swing, will bring together the strongest field in this region and feature most of the world’s leading players of the women’s game.
Maybank’s inaugural partnership with the LPGA Tour follows a 14-year commitment to elite global tournament golf, featuring nearly 20 major championship winners and dominating the top 20 players in the Rolex Women’s World Ranking—six of whom are in the world’s top 10.
In the field are the winners of this year’s majors: Ruoning Yin, the KPMG PGA Championship; Allisen Corpuz, the US Open; and Celine Boutier, the Evian Championship.
Also in the star-studded line-up are Nelly Korda, Brooke Henderson, Jin Young Ko, Ariya Jutanugarn, Jennifer Kupcho, Danielle Kang, Sei Young Kim, Patty Tavatanakit, Hinako Shibuno, Yuka Saso, Ashleigh Buhai and Lydia Ko, all major champions, lending credence to the notion that this is one of the best fields ever assembled in Asia.
China’s world number two, Ruoning, the 21-year-old from Kunming, who has won twice this season, having also captured the DIO Implant LA Open in March, said she was looking forward to her first pro tournament in Kuala Lumpur without worrying too much about the possibility of becoming world number one again with a strong finish.
“I’m happy to be here and looking forward to the tournament. I like playing in Asia. And having recently played in Shanghai and the Asian Games (in Hangzhou), I want to enjoy the week and do my best.”
Korda, seeking a first win this season in a campaign stalled by injury and form, said she was also looking forward to the Maybank Championship.
“I remember coming here in my rookie year in 2017, and, one, I like playing in hot weather, and this reminds me a little bit of home with the warm weather. I really like the golf course and the city. I think the majority of the tour was excited to come back to Malaysia.“
All told, the tournament promises to be an exciting one, with all the talent on display, including Malaysia’s contingent of Maybank’s ASEAN ambassador Kelly Tan, this year’s trio on the Epson Tour – Natasha Andrea Oon, Alyaa Abdulghany and Ashley Lau, and two leading amateurs, Ng Jing Xuen and Jeneath Wong.
As the most experienced local player, Kelly will shine as Malaysia’s prominent representative in the upcoming event.
“I will do my best and hope to enjoy it,” she said on the eve of the championship.
“I know I am not far from playing my best. I just need to get a few more things in order, and it could prove to be a good outing this week.”
For Natasha, 2023 Rookie of the Year on the Epson Tour, this could be the course where she comes in on her own and achieves it while rubbing shoulders with the world’s best, whom she will week in and week out on Tour next season, having earned her 2024 LPGA card.
The 22-year-old also hoped to do her best and enjoy this week’s experience.
“I played here (at KLGCC) on the LPGA Tour as an amateur. This is different, but I am looking forward to it.”
Natasha has had an outstanding year, during which she assumed the top ranking among the country’s women’s players.
Alyaa and Ashley experienced mixed campaigns yet displayed glimpses of promising form, hinting at even better performances ahead.
Jing Xuen, who won gold at the South-East Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia in May, and Jeneath, a Pepperdine University sophomore, said they will be looking to gain from the experience of playing the LPGA Tour event and learn from the pros.