SINGAPORE — South Korean Ko Jin-young, currently ranked third in the Rolex women’s world golf ranking, became the first golfer to successfully defend her HSBC Women’s World Championship title in the US$1.8 million LPGA event. Ko ended the tournament with a three-under-par 69 for a two-shot victory over Nelly Korda earlier in the month at the Sentosa Golf Club. With the win, Ko walks away with a $270,000 prize money, while Korda receives $169,299 in second place.
Japanese Ayaka Furue shared the third placing with American duo Allisen Corpuz and Danielle Kang on 274 total while 2021 U.S. Open champion Yuka Saso recorded a 66 to finish in solo sixth place. The three golfers who are tied in third bring home $98,097.
Ko had to endure a wrist injury last year which threatened to derail her career and despite admitting earlier in the tournament that she has not fully recovered from that injury, Ko continued to prove she has enough class to lift her 14th LPGA Tour title. Ko made a promising start with an opening birdie before reeling two more birdies on holes five and eight. The South Korean marred her card with her only blemish on 11 but she quickly regained her advantage with another birdie on 13. Victory was especially sweet for the 27-year-old as it also marked her return to the winner’s circle for the first time since her last win at the same venue 12 months ago.
“It’s a great honour to defend this title again. This week has been too long for me but I’m feeling so happy. I didn’t want to lose to the other players, especially today. So, it was really hard to keep my poker face on the course even as I tried to stay focused. I had a tough year last year, and I was battling with injuries and loss in form. Mentally it’s tough too. So, this win is especially important and it’s going to be a big momentum for me in my life,” expressed Ko after lifting the winner’s trophy.
It was a close battle for both Ko and Korda as the latter started the final rounds two shots of Ko in second place. Korda had initially fired three successive birdies starting from the third hole to pile the initial pressure on Ko, but bogeys on holes six and 13 caused her to lose momentum on the leaderboard. She tried to surmount another late charge with a further two birdies on holes 14 and 18, but they were not enough for Korda to capture her ninth LPGA title.
“I’m obviously a little disappointed. I didn’t play well and couldn’t really put up a battle as much as I wanted to. I made silly mistakes here and there. I’m going to take a couple of days off before going to work on my swing,” said Korda.
During the HSBC Women’s World Championship, Ariya Jutanugarn (Thailand), and Alison Lee (USA) collaborated with the tournament beneficiary and sponsors to give back to the community. Ariya and Alison visited The Art Faculty, Autism Resource Centre’s social enterprise which celebrates the abilities of local artists on the autism spectrum.
“We are grateful for the strong support from HSBC in spotlighting the abilities of persons on the autism spectrum at this international event. We hope that there will be greater awareness and acceptance of their strengths and abilities, and that society will embrace and integrate the autism culture into our workplaces and everyday lives,” said Jacelyn Lim, executive director of Autism Resource Centre.
Meanwhile, 2018 HSBC Women’s World Championship winner Wie and local Singapore golf star Tan hosted over 30 children from local golf clubs for a clinic at the Sentosa Golf Club. Many of the children in attendance are following in the footsteps of Amanda by also playing in the HSBC Youth Golf Challenge – that helped her golfing journey in representing Singapore at the HSBC Women’s World Championship.
“I remember attending a clinic here when I was young with HSBC and now being able to meet LPGA stars. It’s amazing now for me to be able to inspire the next generation of Singaporean juniors myself. Hopefully we’ll see more local youngsters make it on the LPGA tour and play in this tournament one day. I played in the HSBC Youth Golf Challenge, like a lot of these kids, so hopefully they’re able to follow in my footsteps,” expressed Tan who ended the tournament in 62nd position, with a prize money of $4,449.