The history of the Queen Sirikit Cup—officially known as the Amateur Ladies Asia-Pacific Invitational Golf Team Championship - is very much a part of the history of Thailand Ladies Golf Association which was registered in February 1979, under the chairmanship of Mom Kobkaew Abhakara. One of the Association’s founders, Rae-Vadee T. Suwan, came up with the idea to launch a national team championship in view of the fact that no international ladies’ event existed in the region at that time. She felt that lady golfers with great potential but insufficient financial resources could not go very far in their game. It was timely for them to be given a chance to play at a higher level and accomplish more for themselves and their countries. Through the championship, a higher standard of the game could be raised and more friendships could be formed.
Hence a proposal was sent to the national golf association of 14 countries including Thailand, namely, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Burma, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand to send a team of 3 players to launch the national team championship in Bangkok, Thailand. Of the 14 countries invited, nine countries participated in the inaugural event, known then as the “Amateur Ladies Asian Invitational Golf Team Championship”.
Mom Kobkaew Abhakara was instrumental in requesting the challenge trophy from Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand who graciously granted Her permission to have the trophy named after Her as the “Queen Sirikit Cup”.
The Queen Sirikit Cup is a beautifully handcrafted silver trophy and the exact replica is presented to the champion team each year.
The inaugural Queen Sirikit Cup was hosted by Thailand at Navatanee Golf Course, venue of the 1975 World Cup, during February 15-17, 1979.
Teams represented were Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Japan won the first championship with Thailand as runner-up.
At the first Team Captains’ meeting, it was agreed that future hostings of the championship would be on a rotation basis among the member countries. Indonesia came forward to host the second event that welcomed in two more countries, Australia and Philippines, to make up 11 teams. Japan successfully defended her title for the second year and became the host for the 3rd championship, where Australia captured the Cup for the first time.
For the next three years from 1981-1983 Australia dominated the field by winning the Queen Sirikit Cup consecutively in Japan, Sri Lanka and Singapore. When it was Australia’s turn to host the 6th championship, the 12th member, New Zealand, decided to join the tournament and walked away with the Cup in her first participation. Australia, however, recaptured the Cup again for the next 2 years in Malaysia and India.
In 1987 Japan won for the 3rd time in the Philippines while Korea rejoined the championship with young and promising players after an absence of 7 years since the inaugural championship in 1979.
The 10th anniversary of the Queen Sirikit Cup was celebrated in Thailand in 1988 with full participation of 12 member teams. Australia continued to maintain her top performance and won the Cup for the 6th time in the first decade. The tournament’s theme song, The Women’s Spirit, was launched on this occasion and the teams were granted an audience with H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who represented Her mother, H.M. Queen Sirikit, at Chitrlada Palace.
The second decade started in New Zealand and the People’s Republic of China joined the championship as its 13th member. Korea did well this decade to win her maiden Cup in New Zealand in 1989 and continued the winning trek, with exceptions in 1990 and 1993, to capture the title six more times. The 12th Queen Sirikit Cup was played in Hong Kong in 1990 with full participation of 13 members. New Zealand won her second title here since 1984. The next 2 years Korea regained her title on home ground Korea and in China. In 1993 when Australia played host for the 2nd time in the 15th championships, it was Japan who beat the home team favourite and gained her 4th title since 5 years earlier.
Korea continued to prove her dominance of the game for the next 3 years by winning in Indonesia, Japan and Thailand from 1994-1996. However, in the 19th Queen Sirikit Cup which was hosted by the Philippines for the second round after 10 years, Japan felt most at home and captured the title here again, adding to her 5th victory.
At the close of the 2nd decade in 1998 Korea celebrated her 7th title in India and became the team with the most wins. Australia came second with 6, followed by Japan with 5 and New Zealand with 2 wins. The championship also welcomed its 14th member, Chinese Taipei, to join at the 20th anniversary of the Queen Sirikit Cup in India.
The 3rd decade of the Queen Sirikit Cup began in New Zealand where the first-ever playoff for the team title between host team New Zealand and newcomer Chinese Taipei was witnessed when both were tied at the scores of 436. It was also here that the biggest galleries of spectators turned up to support the event and their home team. After an exciting playoff, New Zealand team succeeded in pleasing the crowd and won the team title, while Chinese Taipei captured the best individual title.
The 22nd and 23rd championships were played in Taiwan and Hong Kong respectively and Australia came back to win both events back to back. The first-ever playoff for individual title was recorded here in Hong Kong in 2001 when Australia’s Rebecca Stevenson beat Kim Joo Mi of Korea after they were tied at 214. The most exciting championship was in 2002 when the 24th tournament was hosted in Malaysia, when both the team and individual titles had to be decided by sudden-death playoff. After 3 rounds at A’Famosa Golf Resort, both Japan and Korea were tied with a new low record of 419 total, while Japan’s Ai Miyazato and Chinese Taipei’s Hung Chin-Huei were both locked in also the new low record total of 207 for the individual title. In the playoff, Hung Chin-Huei clinched the individual title after she birdied the first play-off hole. It took two more holes for Miyazato to redeem herself and helped Japan team win the Cup for the 6th time from Korea.
The 25th Queen Sirikit Cup which was the silver anniversary of the championship was celebrated in Korea in 2003 and Singapore rejoined the tournament after 7 years’ withdrawal. Korea team braved the bad weather conditions and benefited from home advantage to win the 8th title by a wide margin from defending champion Japan.
When the 26th edition was hosted by China for the second time in 2004, the R&A came forward to give financial grant to help subsidize the teams’ accommodation expenses. The recognition given by the R&A was based on the achievements of the Queen Sirikit Cup Championship in promoting the standard of ladies golf in the Asia-Pacific region and recommendation made by the Executive Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation (APGC), Dato Thomas M.L. Lee of Malaysia.
During the championship, the Wuyi Forum was conducted to gather ideas and information from member associations on the direction of ladies golf in the region. It was agreed by all concerned that professional golf would continue to play a significant role in the promotion of amateur golf. It would not only inspire the players to improve their skills, but also generate some income for the associations’ development program. Member associations were informed about the newly launched Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) that could provide a great learning experience for the top amateurs and arrangement was initiated by the Queen Sirikit Cup’s Secretariat to have the individual winner invited to play in one event each year with some subsidy from the Secretariat.
Korea again won the 26th Queen Sirikit Cup in China for the 9th time with the scores of 432 while host China came second at 434 and Thailand finished her best since 1982 in 3rd place at 439.
In 2005 the championship returned to Thailand for the 27th Queen Sirikit Cup at Green Valley Country Club and was renamed “Asia-Pacific Ladies Invitational Golf Team Championship” to reflect the geographic locations of member countries that span from the Pacific region to the southern part of Asia. Sri Lanka regained her membership after 3 years’ absence. In addition to the 13 participating teams, delegates from the R&A, Asia-Pacific Golf Confederation, the Ladies Asian Golf Tour and supporters from member countries were present and made this occasion the largest gathering of golfing officials. Chinese Taipei displayed her great skill to win the Cup for the first time with the scores of 435—2 strokes lower than runner-up home team Thailand at 437.
The 28th Queen Sirikit Cup went back to Royal Adelaide Golf Club in Australia in 2006. It was played under difficult conditions for most teams due to changing weather pattern. However, the least affected teams, defending champion Chinese Taipei and New Zealand, found their scores tied and a playoff was needed. It was a very steady performance by the defending champion Chinese Taipei team that won the playoff on the first hole, while the New Zealand team showed their fighting spirit until the final putt.
In 2007 the championship was hosted by the Philippines at The Country Club, Laguna. It was the first time that teams from all 14 member countries were represented. Again, it was the unbeatable team from Korea that led the field from start to finish with the scores of 414. This became the lowest team score ever recorded so far in the history of the Queen Sirikit Cup. At the close of the 3rd decade, Korea emerged the leading team with a record of 10 wins to her credit. Australia had 8 wins, Japan 6, New Zealand 3 and Chinese Taipei 2 wins.
The 30th anniversary of the Queen Sirikit Cup was kindly hosted by Japan Golf Association during May 28-30, 2008 for the 3rd time. Even with the short preparation time due to unexpected change of venue from Sri Lanka in view of political unrest, all efforts were made to ensure the Cup’s traditional objectives in promoting friendship, sportsmanship, as well as the high standard of the game by the host Japan. The R&A also came forward to offer its subsidy to cover the teams’ accommodation expenses in full. Korea won her 11th title here with the new record of 410 while her player, Jung-Eun Han also set a new low record of 64-70-66 (200) to win the individual title.
During the last 3 decades of the Queen Sirikit Cup, many former national players have turned professional and several of them are now world-class players on the various Tours. The Ladies Asian Golf Tour has also been set up with the objective to provide a path for the top amateurs from the Queen Sirikit Cup to move forward into their professional career. It is interesting to compare the winning scores from the first two decades to last year’s result as the scores kept going down each year. In the inaugural championship the winning team’s score was 459, in the 10th championship – 446, in the 20th championship – 433 and in the 30th championship –410. The same improvement could be seen for the individual winners. It was 229 in the inaugural championship, 221 in the 10th tournament, 216 in the 20th championship and 200 in the 30th edition.
The beginning of the 4th decade for the Asia-Pacific Ladies Invitational Golf Team Championship for the Queen Sirikit Cup was celebrated in Bali, Indonesia from April 1-3, 2009. Hosted by Indonesia Golf Association, this was the 3rd occasion that the Championship returned to Indonesia since 1994 when the 16th Queen Sirikit Cup was played at Damai Indah Golf & Country Club in Jakarta and won by Korea with the score of 428. The first time Indonesia hosted the 2nd Queen Sirikit Cup was in 1980 at Jakarta Golf Club and Australia sent her team for the first time to challenge Japan whose team won the inaugural tournament in Thailand in 1979 at Navatanee Golf Course. Japan succeeded in retaining the cup with the score of 449 -- ten strokes lower than the result of the first event in Thailand.
When the 16th championship was played in Indonesia in 1994, Korea won the Cup for the 4th time and went on to win the 5th and 6th titles consecutively in the following years. It is interesting to note that when the tournament returned to Indonesia that year, Korea was also the defending champion team, having won 11 titles by the end of the 3rd decade the year before in Japan. The team also recorded the lowest winning team score of 410, or -34 under par, while her 15-year old player, Jung-Eun Han produced exceptional scores of 66-70-66 (200), or -22 under par to win the individual title. These results became the lowest records for the Championship in its 30 years’ history.
The 31st Queen Sirikit Cup hosted by Indonesia Golf Association was staged at Nirawana Bali Golf Club during April 1-3, 2009 and participated by 12 teams with the absences of Singapore and Sri Lanka. The host made extra efforts to give the teams and their supporters a good experience in witnessing Balinese cultural performances during the opening ceremony. The scenic layout of the golf course and the beautiful ocean backdrop also made the beginning of the 4th decade tournament another memorable occasion. The defending champion Korea once again proved her team’s undefeatable skills to win the cup with the scores of 416, followed 10 strokes away by Chinese Taipei at 426 and Japan at 435. Korea’s best player, Jang Ha-Na, won the individual title with her results of 67-68-72 (207) . The lowest records of 410 by Korean team and 200 made by Jung-Eun Han the year before in Japan remained unbroken.
In 2010 New Zealand took her 3rd turn to host the 32nd Championship during April 7-9, 2010 , at Hamilton Golf Course, which is the oldest golf course in New Zealand with natural undulating layout. Twelve teams except Indonesia and Sri Lanka were present. Korea came with a newcomer and strong player in Hyo Joo Kim who shot 72-69-65 (206) to help the team retain the title with the scores of 420, with the home team New Zealand coming in 2nd place at 427 and Australia at 430.
The 33rd Queen Sirikit Cup Championship returned to India in 2011 for its 3rd hosting at Delhi Golf Club from March 9-11 with all 14 members present. The R&A was also represented by Mr. Martin Yates, who updated the members on the introduction of Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking and the inclusion of golf in the Olympic in 2016. The Queen Sirikit Cup Championship’s results would be eligible for inclusion in this ranking as from this year onwards.
Indian Golf Union, together with its Ladies’ Golf Section and Delhi Golf Club, did a magnificent preparation to ensure the success of the tournament. Teamwise it was not possible to catch up with the defending champion Korea who scored a total of 425 for a 4-stroke victory over second-place Philippines (429) and China (441). However, the individual match proved exciting to watch the competitiveness displayed by golfers from other teams like Philippines and India. Dottie Ardina of Philippines did well to win the individual title with her 71-70-70 (211) and Delhi Golf Club once again proved to be a difficult course to conquer even by Korean players. The previous record made by Edwina Kennedy of Australia here in 1986 was 221.
Over the years the standard of play has improved to a great extent as evidently shown by players from Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei who went on to dominate the world’s professional golf for ladies these days.
To sum up the list of past champion teams over the 3 decades since 1979: Korea has won 14 times, Australia 8 times, Japan 6 times, New Zealand 3 times and Chinese Taipei twice. With more and more junior golfers taking serious interest in the game, it is hopeful that the new decade can produce new champion teams from other member countries to join the list of only 5 countries that have won the Queen Sirikit Cup so far. The fact that the R&A continues to render its financial support to the Championship also guarantees that the future of the Asia-Pacific Ladies Invitational Golf Team Championship can reach its next milestone in a firm footing.
It is gratifying to note that participation in this annual championship has been given full support from member associations. Many former team players have turned professional and are now showing great performances on the various Tours in the world of ladies golf. Among them are Shin Ji-Yai, Park Hee Yong and Mi Jung Hur from Korea, Shinobu Moromizato and Ai Miyazato from Japan , Hung Chin-Huei and Tseng Ya-Ni from Chinese Taipei. Indonesia also has its first professional now playing on the Ladies Asian Golf Tour, i.e., former national team player, Lidya Ivana Jaya, while Thailand now has more than 30 professionals playing on the LET, LAGT, the Future Tours, as well as the LPGA.
In 2012 Singapore Ladies Golf Association took the second turn to host the 34th Queen Sirikit Cup at Tanah Merah Country Club. The first time Singapore played host was at the 5th Championship in 1983 and eventually pulled out of the Championship for 7 years during 1996-2002. Thirteen members took part with the absence of Sri Lanka. Very promising Korean player, Hyo-Joo Kim stole the limelight with her low scores of 69-65-70 (204) to carry Korean team to their 15th victory. Korea won with a wide gap (413) from runner-up team New Zealand (438) with Australia finishing in 3rd place at 440. Apart from the very well organized tournament run by Singapore Ladies Golf Association, a new slogan has been adopted for future Championships to be known as “The Queen Sirikit Cup—Where Legends Are Born”.
The 35th Queen Sirikit Cup went to Taiwan the following year to be hosted by Chinese Taipei Golf Association at Sunrise Golf & Country Club during April 17-19, 2013. It was her second hosting since the team joined the Queen Sirikit Cup membership at the 20th anniversary in India in 1998. The first hosting was in 2000 at Lin Kou Interntional Golf & Country Club when 11 teams were represented and the Cup was won by Australia for the 7th time. After a long interval of 13 years since its first hosting, 11 teams plus 21 delegates were treated to a most impressive event put up by the host and the management of Sunrise Golf & Country Club. With all facilities, including accommodation, on the course, it was the most enjoyable occasion for all participants and supporters. On the tournament side, Sunrise Golf & C.C. proved to be a testing venue due to its hilly layout and windy condition. The first round saw Japan and Thailand teams tied in the first place with the score of 145. Defending champion Korea lay in 3rd place with 147, while Australia and host Chinese Taipei tied in 4th place at 148. Japan’s Haruka Morita made the lowest score of 70 on the first day. On the second round, Australia moved up to 289 to lead Japan and Thailand by one stroke at 290. Korea and Chinese Taipei followed at 293 and 295. The second day’s lowest score of 69 belonged to Su Hyun Oh of Australia.
Very foggy weather on the final round forced a delay of over 3 hours. After the fog cleared the course, strong wind prevailed thoughout, making playing conditions extremely tough for players. At the end of the final round, Australia team emerged the new Champion with the total scores of 437, followed by Japan in second place t 438 and Thailand in 3rd place at 439. In the individual championship, Supamas Sangchan of Thailand team finished in top place with the scores 75-70-69 (214), followed by Su-Hyun Oh of Australia at 74-69-74 (217) and Gyeol Park of Korea at 72-71-75 (218). It turned out to be the 9th win for Australia after an 11-year interval. Australia also won her 7th title here in 2000. Thailand recorded her first individual championship title at this 35th Queen Sirikit Cup. Supamas Sangchan was subsequently invited to play in the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship the following October as a bonus from Mr. Tien-Ya Hsu, Chairman of Sunrise Golf & Country Club.
Among the delegates who attended the 35th Queen Sirikit Cup were Mr. Dominic Wall from The R&A, Mrs. Patsy Hankin, IGF’s Womens Chairman and Mrs. Champika Sayal, Secretary-General of Womens Golf Association of India, along with golf executives/administrators from member associations.
The 36th Queen Sirikit Cup Championship is to be staged in Malaysia during April 9-11, 2014, at Saujana Golf & Country Club. This will be the 3rd hosting by Malaysian Ladies Golf Association since the 7th event in 1985 at Royal Selangor Golf Club and the 24th edition in 2002 at A' Famosa Resort.