Kim Hyo-joo to defend HSBC championship title in Singapore
LPGA golfer Kim Hyo-joo will tee off at the Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore on Thursday to defend her HSBC Women's World Championship title, alongside No. 1 Ko Jin-young, No. 5 Kim Sei-young and No. 6 Park In-bee.
After a month-long hiatus, the LPGA Tour is entering a two-week Asian swing, and their first stop is at the Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore for the 14th edition of the HSBC Women's World Championship — the fourth event of the season.
In 2021, Kim Hyo-joo won her first trophy on the course since the 2016 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic. She had started out the last round with a five-stroke deficit but was able to pull off a bogey-free 64 during the final round to pull one stroke ahead runner-up Hannah Green of Australia.
Kim Hyo-joo will be trying to repeat that success this weekend at her first tournament of the season.
"I've been exercising and trying to relax a little bit so I'm not getting nervous for my first event," Kim Hyo-joo said in English during a pre-tournament press conference.
"So yeah, I think I'm getting ready to play this event."
Last time around, Kim Hyo-joo had to wait in the clubhouse with three groups still left to finish their rounds. Being the laid-back and relaxed golfer she is, Kim Hyo-joo was seen eating and talking with friends while waiting for her competitors' results.
"I was so hungry at the time, and I'm just thinking to eat something, so I'm not feeling hungry anymore and getting ready in case of playoff," said Kim Hyo-joo.
Green ultimately slipped in the last two holes and Kim was the one to clinch the trophy, one stroke ahead of Green.
"I feel no confidence before last year, but after I won the event last year, I feel I get my confidence back," said Kim Hyo-joo.
"I was so happy to return back to this golf course. I'm feeling very well come here in Singapore."
Kim Hyo-joo is one of four past HSBC Women's World Championship winners in this week's field, along with 2015 and 2017 winner Park In-bee, 2019 winner Park Sung-hyun and 2013 winner Stacy Lewis of the United States.
This year's field for the HSBC Championship is as competitive as ever. All three 2022 LPGA Tour winners, Danielle Kang of United States, Lydia Ko of New Zealand and Leona Maguire of Ireland, have thrown their hats into the ring.
The 65-player field also includes eight of the top-10 players in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, including No. 1 Ko Jin-young, who will make her 2022 LPGA Tour season debut in Singapore, as will No. 5 Kim Sei-young.
No. 6 Park In-bee enters the tournament as the only multiple winner of the HSBC Women's World Championship.
It is no secret that Park In-bee is one of the greatest putters that women's golf has ever seen. Since data tracking began in June 2021, Park In-bee has made 49.4 percent of her putts from 10 to 15 feet. To put that into perspective, the LPGA Tour's overall average in that same period is 29.8 percent, and the PGA Tour averages 30.5 percent this season.
"It is tough to put into words because I was surprised with the stats as well," said Park In-bee ahead of the HSBC Women's World Championship.
"I kind of see why it's happening because I actually feel more confident when I stand over a 10- to 15-footer than when I stand over a 3- to 6-footer."
Park In-bee says that putting is more about the mentality than anything else.
"I kind of think 10- to 15-footer, you have nothing to lose," Park said.
"When I stand over it, when I feel confident with the line. I feel like even if this misses, it's probably very obvious that everyone misses this length of putt. That kind of mindset, no-pressure mindset, has been helping with me for that length of putting."
Alongside the top-four ranked Korean golfers heading to the HSBC Championship — No. 1 Ko Jin-young, No. 5 Kim Sei-young, No. 6 Park In-bee and No. 12 Kim Hyo-joo — Chun In-gee, Kim A-lim, Jenny Shin, Park Sung-hyun, Lee Jeong-eun6, Ryu So-yeon, Chella Choi, Lee Jeong-eun and Amy Yang will tee off on Thursday.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]