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travelgolf BY TERO PARKKINEN Helsinki tour with an Asian accent Helsinki hosts the Finnair Masters golf tournament, part of the Ladies European Tour, with a guest list of up-and-coming Asian golfers participating this year. LKA/Jussi Nukari Finnish golf star Minea Blomqvist will play in this year's Finnair Masters golf tournament. O ne of the summer's most anticipated events is the annual Finnair Masters Ladies European Tour tournament. The game's international stars have praised the tournament arrangements and are always glad to come to Helsinki as the event is held close to central Helsinki at the Tali course, which boasts a beautiful park-like setting. This summer's Finnair Masters will be played on August 29-31. The event's title sponsor, Finnair, has invited promising talents of the future from China, Japan, South Korea and India to experience the atmosphere of European professional golf. "The popularity of golf is growing rapidly in Asia and the level of professional players is improving all the time," says Finnair marketing manager Cia Branders. "There are also many promising junior women players in Asia. Finnair wants to give young players a chance to experience top-level European golf." RELAXING WITH THE HOME CROWD One of the top draws at the Finnair Masters is Finland's Number One woman golfer Minea Blomqvist, who has impressed golf circles with her performances as well as her cheerful, straighttalking personality. Blomqvist, the first woman ever to shoot a 62 at a major golf tournament, has played well early in the season on the United States LPGA circuit and is looking forward to returning to her home country in late summer. "I think I'll really enjoy my `home tournament' this year," says Blomqvist enthusiastically. "As long as I can stay in a relaxed frame of mind, it will be really cool to play in front of the home crowd." Blomqvist is well aware of how valuable invitations to international competitions are in terms of career development. Early in her own career, she was invited by sponsors to play pro contests in Japan and elsewhere. "It's always great to have a chance to play in big tournaments and test your own skills against international players," she says. The excellent quality of Asian players on the professional tour comes as no surprise to Blomqvist. She expects to see some big names of the future at Tali. "The Asians tend to train systematically starting at a young age," she explains. "They often JUNEĀ­AUGUST 2008 BLUE WINGS 73

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