[SPORTS] Naree and Aree Song - Golfers
- Thailand Keeps The Asian Flag Flying
Despite a tough day, Thailand kept the Asian flag flying high by
holding on tight to their lead with an eight under 430 score ahead
of closest rival Spain, who are just one stroke behind on 431.
Thailand's twin wonders Naree and Aree Song Wongluekiet returned
with scores of one-under 72 and one-over 74 respectively to
contribute to the day's score of even-par 146.
According to their captain Angie Supahakarn, the girls though
exhausted from their outing today are in a good position for the
final round of the Women World Golf Team Championship played at the
Palm and Bunga Raya Courses of the Saujana Golf & Country Club in
"It's nice to know we held the lead in the last three days and that
the others have to chase us. We would like to have extended on that
lead today but unfortunately we couldn't," said Aree Song who is
also in the running for the individual title.
Her twin Naree Song is looking forward to playing on the Palm Course
tomorrow she feels it's better suited to their style of play. Naree
who sank four birdies and dropped two strokes found the greens a
little too difficult to manipulate. "The fairways are in good
playing condition but the greens aren't holding," said Naree, who is
looking forward to playing the narrower fairways of the Palm despite
the final round pressure.
The Spanish team who has steadily moved upwards on the leaderboard
since the first round is optimistic about their final day. They
started off joint third on 144 with Finland and Korea on the first
day and while the other two teams fell behind, Spain remained firmly
in the third spot after the second day on four-under. Today, they
improved their placing to second spot with a seven-under 431.
Tania Elosequie Nuria Clau Marta Prieto
According to team captain Vicky Pertierra, the trophy could go to
anyone. "Five to six teams are close and any of these teams could
win it tomorrow," she said. Tania Eloseguie who sank seven birdies
was in fine form despite her double bogey on the seventh finishing
with a three-under 70 for the day. "That double bogey made her mad
enough to play better on the remaining holes," said Pertierra.
Tania and Nuria Clau (even 73) who won the European Team
Championship this year, contributed for the total score of 143 for
the team. The other member of the team Marta Prieto who with Tania
competed for the Espirito Santo Trophy in Berlin is headed for the
European Tour Qualifying School after this event.
On their chances tomorrow, Marta feels that the Palm Course is an
advantage to their long hitting game. "It's a long course and the
team that make the putts will win tomorrow.
The Australian and German teams also indicated their preference for
the Palm Course and feels that it favours their type of game.
Australia is optimistic that their game plan will help win them the
trophy tomorrow and according to their coach Ian Triggs, the team is
well prepared and warmed up for tomorrow.
The Australia team despite the scorching heat and humidity shot
below par scores with Lindsey Wright contributing to the team's
lowest score with her three under 70 followed by Vicky Uwland with
her two-under 71.
The German team despite several putting problems experienced by
Martina Eberl is also looking for a top finish on the Palm
Course. "As I said yesterday, Denise is a good ball striker and we
are very confident with our long irons so it's an advantage for us
to play on the Palm Course," said Martina who posted a one-under 72.
Martina and Pia's one-over 74 contributed to the score of the day of
even par 146.
Once again with the exception of Thailand, the other Asian teams
seemed to be lagging behind with the Koreans in joint ninth position
on 441 total score, Japan in 11th placing on 442, Chinese Taipei in
17th position on 447, Philippines in 23rd position on 465, Hong Kong
in 26th spot on 469, Malaysia in 30th place on 480 and finally in
39th position Iran on 701.
Alright, Aree Song
Posted: Friday March 24, 2000 08:31 PM
After a double-bogey on 13, Aree Song Wongluekiet bounced back
with a birdie on 14, one of four in her round. AP
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. (AP) -- Aree Song Wongluekiet should have been
in school studying algebra, English and Spanish on Friday. Instead,
the 13-year-old taught the LPGA Tour how to master a tough course in
the year's first major championship.
Wongluekiet (pronounced Wahn-gloo-KEE-it) shot a 1-under 71 and made
the cut in the Nabisco Championship with a 2-over 146 total -- one
stroke behind former U.S. Open champion Laura Davies.
Aree and her twin sister, Naree, are the second-youngest ever to
compete in an LPGA tournament.
"I expected to make the cut. It was one of my goals," said Aree, who
along with her sister, dominated the junior circuit in the last half
Dottie Pepper, second after Thursday's first round, teed off early
and posted a par-72 for a 4-under 140 total.
First-round leader Karrie Webb birdied the first three holes to get
to 8-under. She was still on the course.
Naree didn't fare as well as her sister, failing to make the cut
after an 82 that included one birdie, a double bogey and seven
bogeys. She finished at 12-over 156.
"I'm very happy for my sister. She's having a blast," Naree said. "I
tried my best. I wasn't nervous. From six on, I struggled to make
That means their older brother, Chan, is out of a job as Naree's
caddie. The 17-year-old, one of the nation's top junior boys'
golfers, won't be on Aree's bag for the final two rounds.
"My brother tried to caddy for her in the Korean Open, and I don't
think they got along very well," Naree said. "He's a great caddie."
Naree was just as popular with fans, who pushed golf balls and caps
at her to sign.
"That's a long name. You're going to have to shorten it," a woman
told Naree as she squeezed her name in careful script on a golf
Aree double-bogeyed the par-4, 403-yard 13th when she pushed her tee
shot into the thick rough on the right side of the fairway and ended
up behind a tree. She sank a 6-footer to salvage the double bogey.
"When I'm out there, I don't think about anything else except just
playing my game and sticking to my game plan," Aree said.
That was evident in the way she calmly bounced back with a birdie on
the par-3, 148-yard 14th -- one of four in her round.
"That's what a champion does," said Sherri Turner, a 15-year tour
veteran. "You forget you're playing with a 13-year-old. She's very
focused, especially for a kid. I look for great things to happen for
Turner, 43, said playing with Aree helped her own game. She shot a 2-
under 70 and was at 147, one behind Aree.
"I thought, `Man, I'm going to be really embarrassed if she makes
the cut and I don't.' She had no concept how difficult this course
is," she said. "I put a lot of pressure on myself before we even
Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez was a 17-year-old amateur when she played
in her first LPGA tournament. She also made the cut and tied for
Both Wongluekiet sisters are missing a week of school in Bradenton,
Fla., where they attend the private David Leadbetter Academy to hone
their golf games. Their mother, who is from Thailand, and father,
who is from South Korea, are here this week.
The sisters have said they'll play Monday qualifying to try to get
into three more LPGA tournaments, including the U.S. Open in July.
They received sponsor exemptions this week.
"My only concern is that she might get burned out. They're so
programmed to do this," Turner said of Aree. "What does she do for
the next five years? I hope she's allowed to be a kid."
Divots: Webb said she and countrywoman Rachel Hetherington never
discussed turning pro when they competed together as juniors in
Australia. "It's not like over here in the States. You talk to the
Wongluekiets and they tell you when they're going to turn pro," Webb
said. "In Australia, you mention it to anyone and if it gets back to
an official, they're going to say it's against your amateur
status." ... The late Jim Murray, who was a Pulitzer Prize-winning
columnist for the Los Angeles Times, and Bob Rosburg, an ABC golf
reporter for 25 years, were the first recipients of the Babe
Zaharias LPGA Journalism Awards presented Friday
Song Wongluekiets become hot commodity after leaving Thailand
By EDDIE SEFKO
Copyright 2001 Houston Chronicle
TRINITY -- It's a long way from Chiangmai, Thailand, to the piney
woods of East Texas.
During the trip, Aree Song Wongluekiet and her twin sister, Naree,
have taken a long, twisting journey to the front porch of golf
stardom. They have moved to Bradenton, Fla., where they use the
endless summers to hone their games at the David Leadbetter Junior
Between them, they have won tournaments at every level, including a
professional event this year in their native land, won by Naree.
At a glance
·What: The Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship, a 72-
hole, stroke-play event with male and females golfers from at least
25 countries participating.
·When: Thursday through Sunday.
·Where: Whispering Pines Golf Club in Trinity.
They have been on golf magazine covers and beaten par to a pulp on
too many courses to mention.
They speak English better than some Texans and have become
Americanized in many ways, but not so much so that they can tolerate
what passes for "authentic" Thai cuisine at restaurants here.
And now, at the ripe, old age of 15, they are in the hills of
Trinity County near Lake Livingston doing something they almost
never get a chance to do.
They are representing Thailand in a world championship.
"We don't have a lot of opportunities to play for Thailand because
most of the tournaments that the country competes in are in Asia,"
Naree says. "It's nice to have a chance to represent our country.
And there are a lot of good players here to compete against."
Those good players have turned the practice range at Whispering
Pines Golf Club into an international language festival. No fewer
than a half-dozen languages could be overheard within a 25-yard
stretch as players worked Tuesday in preparation for the inaugural
Spirit International Amateur Golf Championship that begins Thursday.
The Song Wongluekiets are two of the star attractions in the event.
Aree showed why during the last 10 holes of the sponsor tournament
Tuesday, shooting 3 under par in that stretch to help her team to
the win. The Spirit, which will crown a champion country in addition
to male and female individual and team champions, begins its 72-hole
On the female side, certainly, Thailand will be one of the teams to
Watching Aree and Naree is like watching seasoned veterans on the
golf course. From afar, they look like golfers. They wear the right
clothes. They have buttery-smooth swings. Their ball flight looks
But up close, they look somewhat different. The braces on their
teeth and their fresh faces assure strangers that these are, indeed,
"They are so young," says Vanee Song Wongluekiet, their mother who
will serve as the Thailand team captain for The Spirit. "They have a
lot to learn. But they are improving each year."
And growing wiser beyond their years, too. In this era when all kids
seem to grow up too fast, the Song Wongluekiets' growth curve is
even more accelerated. They are in the 11th grade at their private
school in Florida, where they attend five classes from 7:30 a.m. to
shortly after noon. They practice for three or four hours in the
afternoon, do homework or work out in the evening and repeat the
cycle five days a week.
In the summer, they travel to most of the 15 or so tournaments they
play each year.
It's a golf-specific lifestyle. But, at the same time, the twins try
not to forget they are kids.
"We take the weekends off, usually, and if we get tired of it, we
take a break," Naree says.
Aree and Naree moved to the United States late in 1997 with their
mother. They set up camp at Leadbetter's academy. The time since has
been a steady progression up golf's ladder. At 13, they played in
their first LPGA Tour event, the Dinah Shore Classic. Both made the
cut and Aree finished tied for 10th.
At 14, they had outgrown most of the junior circuits because of a
lack of competition. When Naree won the Thailand Open in February,
she became the youngest champion in that event's history. Her sister
finished in the top 15.
Now, as the pair continues to improve with an eye on the
professional ranks someday, they are trying to conquer the top
amateur ranks, such as the field that is on hand this week at The
"It (growing up with golf dominating their lifestyle) has been good
for us," Aree says. "We trade one thing for another sometimes, but
we just try to take it a step at a time. We try to treat every
tournament the same and it's been a fun atmosphere."
And as for being in America, it hasn't been a problem.
"The only thing I really miss about Thailand is the food," Naree
says. "But our mom cooks for us whenever we want, so we still get to
have true food."
All that's left for the Song Wongluekiets is their continued
ascension through the ranks of women's golf. At times, they have to
push each other.
"She has done a little better than I have," Naree says, "which is
OK. We always practice and play with each other, when we can, so
it's a good, friendly rivalry. I just hope to get better every
That hasn't been a problem for the Song Wongluekiets. They have
raced past the competition in America the past couple of years.
Now, they hope to represent Thailand with equal success.