Golfer Ashley joins the big names in South Korea

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian golfer Ashley Lau will get to measure her skill against the cream of the Korea LPGA Tour (KLPGA Tour) at the Hana Financial Group Championship (HFG Championship) in Incheon, starting this Thursday.

The 23-year-old pro from Sarawak secured her place in the KRW1.5 billion (RM5.29 million) event at Bear's Best Cheongna Golf Club through a sponsor's exemption spot from HFG, the tournament's host.

The championship, boasting the second-largest purse of the KLPGA Tour, also features some of the biggest names, including major winners like Australia's Lee Minjee, New Zealand's Lydia Ko, and Thailand's Patty Tavatanakit.

The US-based Ashley is among a select group of promising Asian stars, like Thailand's Jaravee Boonchant and Eila Galitsky, the Philippines' Bianca Pagdanganan, and Singapore's Shannon Tan, to be granted this unique opportunity.

Currently competing on the Epson Tour, a developmental circuit for the US LPGA Tour, Ashley views the HFG Championship as a pivotal stepping stone.

"This is my debut, playing professional golf in Korea, and I'm thrilled to compete on such a grand platform," said Ashley, who was part of the Malaysian team that clinched the silver at the 2019 Manila Sea Games.

"I don't want to set overly ambitious expectations for myself. My aim is to learn and accumulate as much experience as possible. My initial target is to make the cut. Achieving that, I'd love to pursue a top-10 finish by the end of the week. Above all, I'm looking forward to enjoying the game and spending some precious time with my sister, who's caddying for me this week."

Although Ashley faced a challenging start on the Epson Tour, she's rebounded commendably with two top-five placements in her last three outings, notably securing third place at the Wildhorse Ladies Golf Classic.

The HFG Championship will serve as invaluable preparation for Ashley, paving the way for the Maybank Championship, a US LPGA Tour event, next month.

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