HSBC Women's World Championship Preview
NINE of the world’s top 10 are in the field for the HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa Golf Club, described as ‘Asia’s major’.
Leading the North American challenge will be Canada’s Brooke Henderson and Danielle Kang of the U.S. The two major winners will see the stunning vistas of Sentosa as the perfect place to get their year off to a winning start, having both had to settle for a share of second place behind Michelle Wie in 2018.
Henderson, who posted seven top-ten finishes in 2021, including a 10th career win at the LA Open said: “I’m looking forward to getting back to Singapore to play the HSBC Women’s World Championship. It’ll be three years since I last played the tournament but it’s a great course and one of the best championships we get to play on Tour. I know all the players are really pleased to see it on the schedule again this year, so a big shout-out to everyone there that’s making it happen. We really appreciate it!”
Yuka Saso and Nasa Hataoka, aged 20 and 23 respectively of Japan, will be sure to take the fight to the ‘old guard’, while Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit (22) and Atthaya Thitikul (18) will give Thai fans plenty to cheer about as they return to familiar hunting grounds.
Hataoka has five wins to her name, while Saso claimed no less than six top ten finishes last year, including a first major title at the US Women’s Open in her rookie year.
It will be Saso’s first time competing in the HSBC Women’s World Championship but she’s no stranger to the course, having made it to a four-way play-off in the 2018 Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific on the Tanjong, before eventually losing out to none other than then 15-year-old Thitikul.
Saso said: “I’m really looking forward to the trip to Singapore and playing in the HSBC Women’s World Championship for the first time. Having spent a lot of time growing up in the Philippines, it’s not quite home, but it will certainly feel closer to home. I know the course well having played it as an amateur in 2018, so hopefully I can play the conditions well and push for a good result.”
Tavatanakit is another player to have made a huge impact since joining the LPGA Tour in 2020, winning her first major title at last year’s ANA Inspiration. With the Jutanugarn sisters also returning to the Lion City, fans can expect to see at least one of the Thai players in contention come Sunday.
They will be joined by Sei Young Kim of Korea whose impressive form over the years has seen her notch up 12 victories since making her Tour debut in 2015. The World No. 5 will be looking to build on a strong year in 2021 and get back to her winning ways in Singapore.
Minjee Lee of Australia also returns to Singapore as a major winner following her success at last year’s Amundi Evian Championship. A sponsor invite to the tournament back in 2015, the World No. 6 has proven her class over the years and will be looking to go one better than her second-place finish in the Championship in 2019.
Last year saw a superb final day in Singapore. Eleven of the top-12 players heading into Sunday were already LPGA Tour winners, with 60 victories between them and 17 major championship titles.
Among them, five shots out of the 54-hole lead, was Hyo Joo Kim. Kim was looking to improve upon a third-round that featured six birdies, six pars and six bogeys.
“Those six bogeys I made were short putts missed. Usually I'm very confident with my putter. So I just tried to focus when I needed to make the short putts, and I think that it's concentration that makes the difference,” said Kim through a translator. It certainly was the difference for the 25-year-old, as she recorded her lowest 18 holes since the 2019 Amundi Evian Championship with a bogey-free 64 to earn the fourth title of her LPGA Tour career and first since 2016.
Kim carded four birdies in the last five holes of her front nine to make the turn at -13, putting her right in contention with the likes of major champions Hannah Green and Inbee Park, who were a few holes behind in the final grouping. Kim continued to capitalise in her back nine, making birdies on Nos. 11, 12, 14 and 15, and then awaited the final groups as she sat on the clubhouse lead at -17.
Green, sitting two strokes back of Kim’s lead heading into the 14th hole, holed out to make her second eagle of the week and then birdied No. 16 to take a one-shot lead. But, a disastrous end brought the Australian back down to Earth as she bogeyed her final two holes and played herself out of her third-career win.
“I didn't really feel like I was in it until I holed the shot on 14. That was a nice way to get my momentum. Made a really good putt on 16 to make birdie, but obviously pretty disappointed to have two 3-putts finishing. Felt a little nerves on the last, which is nice, because I guess having the spectators out there it kind of meant something to me,” said Green, who ultimately finished in solo second at -16. “So I'm obviously very close, so I just hope that I can continue this momentum and who knows, have a good result next week.”
Kim watched on a TV in the players’ lounge as she realised she won, and was then thoroughly sprayed with a champagne shower by friends. “My goal this year was to get a win, and I'm glad I already achieved that,” said Kim. “While I was playing on the KLPGA Tour last year, I honed my skills and wanted to adapt them to this year on the LPGA, and I'm very happy that these results came out.”
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