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[SPORTS] Naree and Aree Song - Golfers

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  • madchinaman
    Thailand Keeps The Asian Flag Flying http://www.asianpga.com/article.php?sid=30 Despite a tough day, Thailand kept the Asian flag flying high by holding on
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 30, 2003
      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
      of 1999.

      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
      some putts."

      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


      Spice girls
      Song Wongluekiets become hot commodity after leaving Thailand
      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
      Golf Academy.

      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
      run Thursday.

      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.
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