29th Anniversary of Ladies Asian Golf Tour
The Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) celebrated the 29th anniversary in 2012. Officially launched in 1987 as the Kosaido Ladies Asia Golf Circuit (LAGC) in 5 countries, the first chapter lasted 17 years before the Main Sponsor, Kosaido Company of Japan, terminated the contract due to the passing away of its Chairman, Mr. Yoshiaki Sakurai in 2003.Those early years the prize moneys were in the range of US$50,000 - US$70,000. However, many well-known players such as Lisolette Nuemann, Sofia Gronberg from Sweden, Mardi and Karen Lunn, Corinne Dibnah of Australia and Il Mi Chung from Korea played on the Ladies Asia Golf Circuit as the launching pad to further their career. Prior to the official launching of the Asian Tour, there was an Asia Golf Circuit initiated by Mr. Koich Kato of Japan and his colleague, British Mr. Michael Gedye from 1983 - 1986.
The participating lady professionals then consisted of mostly American, European and Japanese golfers with very few Asian players and the fields numbered between 65 - 80 golfers. With the guidance from the late Edmund Yong of Malaysia, the LAGC was sanctioned by the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC) since its inception as an official Asian ladies' tour.
After one-year gap the Tour was re-launched in 2005 by Mr. Koichi Kato of Japan, Mrs. Rae Vadee T.Suwan of Thailand and Mr. Aylwin Tai of Hong Kong as the Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) with 4 events in Taiwan, China, Singapore and Thailand. The Thailand Ladies Open in 2005 was cosanctioned with the Ladies European Tour (LET) with the prize money of US$330,000.
The following year in 2006 the number of tournaments went up to 5 to include Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, China and Macau with prize moneys from US$50,000 - US$100,000.
In 2007, India joined the Tour for the first time and her winner was the freshly - turned professional from Taiwan, Tseng Ya-Ni, while Thailand Ladies Open also produced another world-class winner, Shin Ji-Yai from Korea. The Asia Miles Binhai Open in China was tri-sanctioned with the KLPGA and LET and offered the highest prize money of US$230,000. At this stage, the Ladies Asian Golf Tour welcomed the recognition and financial support from the R&A for its role in the development of ladies golf in Asia by providing rule-officials' subsidy to the Tour.
In 2008, four eventswere held in Thailand, India, Binhai and Taihu Suzhou, China. Both events in China were tri-sanctioned and offered the big purse of US$300,000. The Taihu Suzhou tournament was won by Annika Sorenstam who afterward retired from active tournament. Prize moneys put up in Thailand and India were raised to US$120,000. Then both venues also produced the same winner back to back in Pornanong Phatlum from Thailand.
The LAGT experienced a setback in 2009 when only 3 tournaments were left to be hosted in Thailand. India and Suzhou Taihuin China. The well-seasoned Onnarin Sattayabanphot of Thai won the title in Thailand, while another Thai, Pornanong Phatlum maintained her great form to retain her title in India. Suh Bo-Mi from Korea hit her jackpot by winning the tri-sanctioned Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open with the Eiro 200,000 prize offered and entitled to pay the LET tour for two years seasons.
The following year in 2010, the LAGT welcomed a new event in Indonesia, increasing the number of tournaments to 5. The prize money in Thailand was raised to US$150,000 then and Lee Jung Min from Korea emerged the winner. The first event in Indonesia was held in Bali with the prize money of US$120,000 and another Korean, Lee Solar captured the championship title there. Two tri-sanctioned tournaments in Sanya Hainan and Suzhou taihu offered the same prize money of Euro 200,000, which the same player Lee Ann Pace from South Africa won both Opens. The Indian Womens Open was, however, won by the famous British golfer, Laura Davis in 2010 when the event became a tri-sanctioned tournament with the Ladis European Tour (LET) , Womens Golf Association of India (WGAI) and the LAGT, offering the prize fund of US$300,000.
More tournaments have been added to the Ladies Asian Golf Tour in 2011. A few of them were unofficially linked to the LAGT for the benefits of the LAGT members. They included 4 events in Taiwan. Also a new tournament was introduced in Japan as the Yumeya Dream Cup, offering the prize money of US$130,000. This addition turned out to be a very successful attention as several thousands of Japanese golf enthusiasts went to watch the ladies in action. The organizers were so pleased with the tournament success that they decided to double the prize money to US$260,000 for 2012. A new tournament in Japan was scheduled after the Thailand Ladies Open in February which offered the US$130,000 prize money.
The 2012 tournaments schedules on the Ladies Asian Golf Tour therefore had9 - 10 events including another new tournament in Miyazaki, japan for the ladies to challenge their skills and provide more incentive to the players with more prize moneys being put up. In Thailand Ladies Open the prize money has been increased to US$150,000 and a maximum fields of 130 entries have been acceopted from 16 countries.
It has been a long and bumpy road from 1983 to 2012 for the development of ladies golf in Asia. Today the number of Asian lady golfers has been grown into thousand and many more are on the way. No word can sufficiently express our sincere appreciation to many generous sponsors, supporters, contributors, organizers, tournament hosts and those volunteers who were involved in our many championship. Hopefully the golfing sprit among this sport lovers will keep the ball rolling and the LAGT moving forward successfully for many years to come.
Management Board 2012