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Asian PGA Veterans to play as sponsor exemptions for the 2003 Myanmar Open

Travel News Asia 24 February 2003

Celebrating its 8th year in 2003 the organizers of the Myanmar Open have announced the field of international players competing under sponsor exemptions for the 2003 Myanmar Open (February 27 - March 2 at the Yangon Golf Club). The six leading Asian professionals Charlie Wi, Kevin Na, Lin Keng-Chi, Scott Taylor, Nam Young-Woo and Attaphon Prathummanee.

Of these, Korea's Charlie Wi will be the best known player as this cagey veteran has delighted Asian galleries with his skill for years. Charlie, who played in Europe last year, earned enough money on the European Tour to gain his Tour card for the 2003 season. Previously, Wi enjoyed a stellar year  in Asia in 2001 with three victories, the SK Telecom Open and Shinhan Donghae Open in Korea and the Volvo China Open. That year, he went on to finish in second-place behind defending Myanmar Open champion  Thongchai Jaidee on the Order of Merit. Wi continued his momentum in 2002, becoming only the fourth player to successfully defend an Asian PGA  title with his victory in the 2002 SK Telecom Open. One of Korea's top golfers, Wi is in fine form of late, finishing a respectable tied-25th at the Johnnie Walker Classic played from 13 - 16 February in Perth, Australia.

Taiwan's Lin Keng-Chi has also confirmed his appearance at the Yangon Golf Club later this month. The 14-year veteran is currently playing in Japan,  where he finished 33rd overall on the money list last year. Lin's breakthrough year in Japan came in 2001, when he finished sixth on the money list and cracked the top-100 in the world rankings. In a neat 2001  treble, Lin won twice, finished second twice and finished third twice accumulating 96.7 million yen, roughly US$775,000 along the way. Lin's last  full year on the Asian PGA Tour was in 1995, when he etched his name forever in the record books by becoming the first ever Asian PGA Tour Order of Merit winner. Since then, Lin has returned to play in many Asian PGA events, most notably in 2000, when he won the Mercuries Masters in Taiwan.

Another Korean joining this year's field of sponsor exemptions is Kevin Na,  who continues to display great skill in his second year on the Asian PGA Tour. Na, a standout junior golfer in the US, recorded performances strong enough to see him named the Asian PGA Tour's rookie of the year. He successfully marked his debut season with a two-stroke victory in the Volvo Masters of Asia, the Asian PGA's inaugural Tour Championship limited to the  leading 60 players plus invitees. The impressive performance capped an equally impressive year which saw Na record five top-ten finishes in eight  starts. The player is no stranger to success having won more than 100 titles as an amateur in the US, where graduated from junior golf as the top ranked  player and bypassed college to turn pro at the age of 17. Na trains with Tiger Woods' swing coach Butch Harmon in the U.S., while his father Yong Na  served as his caddie for most of last season.

Among the other Asian PGA veterans granted sponsor exemptions for the 2003 Myanmar Open is American Scott Taylor who has distinguished himself  with several strong performances over a long APGA career including eight top-10 APGA finishes in 1996. Taylor went on to finish 6th and 4th respectively at the Sabah Masters and Kuala Lumpur Open in 1998,  and tied-ninth at Sabah in 1999. Most recently he finished tied- fifth at the Hyundai Motors Masters in 2000.

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