Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open returns after four-year hiatus

KUALA LUMPUR: Mirabel Ting will spearhead a strong local challenge as they bid to become the first home player to win the Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open (MLAO) in seven years later this month.

The tournament, which enters its 27th edition, is making a long-awaited comeback following a four-year hiatus and will be hosted at the Templer Park Country Club in Rawang from July 25-27, with a total of 90 entries from nine countries have been received to date.

Hopes are high on the Malaysian players to reclaim the glory after Nur Durriyah Damian last claimed the honour for the host in 2016.

The next three editions were won by Kan Bunnabodee and Sarunchana Rattanasin (2017 and 2019) of Thailand and Indonesian's Ribka Vania.

Besides Mirabel, who's the highest-ranked player in the field at world No 59, Malaysia will also count on United States-based Liyana Durisic as well as Ng Jing Xuen and Foong Zi Yu, the individual gold and bronze medallists at the Cambodia Sea Games in May.

"We have a strong field of top national players from Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam and Hong Kong and of course our very own Malaysian girls participating," said MLAO organising chairman Tunku Puteri Jawahir, who's also the Malaysia Ladies Golf Association (Malga) president.

"We also have a number our our up and coming juniors from the 'Yayasan Sime Darby-Malga Golf for Girls Programme' playing in the Open division too.

"We are hopeful for a Malaysian to be crowned champion again as it has been many years since Nur Durriyah last won in 2016."

Mirabel will enter the tournament as an overwhelming favourite, given her stellar performance as a rookie in the US collegiate golf season, which concluded in May.

Along with fellow Malaysian Jeneath Wong, the 18-year-old was one of the five players shortlisted for the Division I WGCA Freshman of the Year award.

Mirabel has competed in the MLAO once in 2018, and impressed with a fourth placed finish when she was just 13-year-old.

World No 167 Liyana is the other player to look out for as she seeks to win the MLAO, one of the must have titles in her amateur career.

"It would mean a lot for any Malaysian to win obviously, hopefully it will be me. It will be really important for any Malaysian to win because it's going to lift the image of the women's golf in the country," said Liyana, whose best result in the MLAO was a tied fifth in 2017.

Mirabel and Liyana will be up against some of formidable opponents such as Laurea Duque of the Philippines, Inez Ng of Singapore and Thai trio Napajira Luesattha, Ngampan Chantana and Korrawan Bennukul.

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