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Kuala Lumpur – The Sime Darby Group and event organisers IMG today announced that two of the 10 available exemption spots in the inaugural Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia have been awarded to Malaysian professional golfers Cindy Lee-Pridgen and Jean Chua. The event, which has the full support of the Malaysian Golf Association (MGA) and Malaysian Ladies Golf Association (MALGA), is set to take place from 22 to 24 October 2010 at the prestigious Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) with a star-studded line-up competing for a prize purse of US$1.8 million.

Lee-Pridgen, who has played on the American-based Duramed FUTURES Tour since 2005, is one of Malaysia’s most experienced female golfers. After a highly successful period at junior level which included her win at the 1993 Malaysia Junior Open, Lee-Pridgen progressed further, achieving a semi-finalist position at the 2000 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship. She also represented Malaysia in a number of events including the 2005 Women's World Cup of Golf in South Africa. Originally from Sabah, the 34-year-old is currently the appointed golf ambassador for the Sabah Tourism Board, a position she has held for the third year running.

“I am extremely excited about the opportunity to play in Malaysia’s first LPGA tournament and am tremendously grateful to the title sponsors, Sime Darby Group, for presenting me with the chance to play amongst the best players in the world.” said an overjoyed Lee-Pridgen.

Having turned professional only last year, Jean Chua is highly regarded as one of Malaysia’s up-and-coming female golfers. Having distinguished herself at junior level by clinching numerous local and regional titles, the 22-year-old marked her first professional outing by overcoming a seven-shot deficit to clinch the Thai LPGA Open last August. Jean Chua is currently based in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, playing in Open Tournaments around there to get as much tournament exposure as possible.   

“I am extremely honoured to have been given the chance to play in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia through the support of the Sime Darby Group. Playing in such a high-profile event with the world’s top female golfers will certainly be a boost to my development as a player and put me in good stead for the future,” said Chua who is working towards getting her US LPGA Tour card.

Dato’ Tunku Putra Badlishah, Director of Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club said, “We are delighted to be supporting our very own Malaysian professionals Cindy Lee-Pridgen and Jean Chua at this year’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. The tournament will play an important role in developing the women’s game in Malaysia and we hope the participation of both players will garner strong support from local spectators.”

“Sime Darby and IMG are pleased to give two exemption spots to Cindy Lee-Pridgen and Jean Chua who will be flying their country’s flag at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. Both these players have shown great promise as professionals and will join an exciting line-up of players for what promises to be a special tournament. It will be quite a spectacle for the fans that come down to the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club to support the local talents and their favourite golfers from the LPGA,” said Robbie Henchman, Senior Vice President of IMG.

The Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia will feature the top 50 LPGA members from the Official Money List, along with 10 sponsor’s exemptions in total. The three-day stroke play event with no cut will ensure that players are in Kuala Lumpur for the tournament duration and the local and regional golf community can catch their favourite golfers in action the entire week. These include superstars Michelle Wie, Cristie Kerr and Natalie Gulbis who have already confirmed their attendance at LPGA’s first tournament in Malaysia.

It was also announced today that additional exemption spots will be given to the top two players from the regional qualifying session involving ASEAN nations in August and the top two players from the local qualifying session which will be held in September. More information on these events will follow in the coming months.

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