A massive boost to ladies professional golf in China has come with the announcement by China Golf Association that the country will host its first ever Ladies European Tour event and that Annika Sorenstam, will play. The EUR200,000 Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open 2008 will be held from October 31st to November 2nd at the Suzhou Taihu International Golf Club and will be sanctioned by the China Golf Association, Ladies Asian Golf Tour and the Ladies European Tour.

“We’re delighted that the Ladies European Tour is coming to China,” said Zhang Xiao-ning, Deputy Chairman and Secretary General of the China Golf Association. “And we’re particularly proud that one of the all time great players in women’s golf, Annika Sorenstam, will compete. It presents Chinese lady pros with some really tough competition and will be a great motivation for them to raise their performance to the highest level.”

Alex Armas, Executive Director of the Ladies European Tour hailed the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open 2008 as a big step forward in the Tour’s growth internationally.

“It’s our first event ever in China and will be a historic occasion for us,” said Armas. “At a time of year when the weather in Europe is turning against us, it’s important to be able to extend the Tour’s season and give our players an opportunity to come here to compete at Suzhou Taihu International Golf Club, which is truly a world class venue.”

Raevadee T. Suwan, President of the Ladies Asian Golf Tour said, “The launching of the Suzhou Ladies Open 2008 as part of the LAGT is great news. It serves to inspire more top amateurs to look forward to their future in playing professional golf. We have seen many successful professional golfers from our Tour now playing on the bigger Tours and the LAGT is proud to have helped them getting there.”

The new event will have a special significance for Annika Sorenstam as this will be the final time that she will compete in a professional tournament in China, having announced that she is stepping away from competitive golf at the end of the season.

“China represents the future for golf and I feel I should be there at this time in my career,” she said. “The Ladies European Tour gave me my start in pro golf and so I want to be part of this historic moment together with my fellow European players.”

Xu Yueping, chairman of Taihu Golf, the sponsor and organizer, said, “There is no higher honor for us than having Annika Sorenstam compete at Taihu in her final season. We will treasure this long into the future.”