Virada Nirapathpongporn, my personal favorite golfer, has signed a one year contract to work with the Thailand Ladies Golf Association. The former US Women’s Amateur winner and NCAA Champion will assist with developing the Thai national team in preparation for next year’s Queen Sirikit Cup, a team and individual competition involving teams from the Asia-Pacific including Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China, among others.
Thailand has never won the Queen Sirikit Cup, officially known as the Amateur Ladies Asia-Pacific Invitational Golf Team Championship. The Thai team would especially like to do well in this competition, not in the least because it is named after Queen Sirikit of Thailand. The leading team winner is South Korea, which should surprise nobody. Notable winners who went on to turn professional and have great success include Hiromi Kobayashi (1983 individual winner), Hee Won Han (1994, 1996), Mi Hyun Kim (1995), Jeong Jang (1998), Bo Bae Song (2003), Shinobu Moromizato (2004), Yani Tseng (2005), Mi-Jung Hur (2006) and So Yeon Ryu (2007). The 2011 individual title was won by Dottie Ardina of the Philippines while Team Korea won their 5th straight team title.
While I wish Virada nothing but the best in all endeavors, I hope this assignment sparks a desire to compete again, if not in the United States, possibly on one of the Asian tours. At 28, she will still be young after the 2012 Queen Sirikit Cup is complete.
There is a great Q&A with Virada in the Bangkok Post where she talks about the next phase in her life: Virada Opens Up On “Retirement”