First major of KLPGA season starts Thursday in Pocheon
The first KLPGA major of the season, the CreaS F&C The 44th KLPGA Championship, starts Thursday.
Defending champion Park Hyun-kyung will be looking for her third consecutive win while LPGA golfers Kim Hyo-joo, Lee Jeong-eun and Kim A-lim are returning to Korea to join the field.
The KLPGA Championship is the fourth tournament of the season and first major. The total purse will be 1.2 billion won ($950,000) and the winner will take 216 million won.
The competition first launched in 1978 and the first champion was Han Myung-hyun. Recent winners are Jang Ha-na in 2018, Choi Hye-jin in 2019 and Park for two years in a row in 2020 and 2021.
Park will be looking to become the first golfer in 40 years to win the event three times.
The last time one person won the KLPGA championship three times was in 1982, when Ku Ok-hee took her third title after winning in 1980 and 1981. Park will be looking to emulate that success as last year she carded a 10-under-par, 278, to defend her title for the first time.
"I won my first KLPGA title at the event," said Park.
"It was especially meaningful because I defended my title last year. People say they are looking forward to me winning three times and I'm grateful that people have high expectations for me, but it does feel a little burdensome. I will focus on my form and shots rather than on the numbers."
Park has not won a title this season. Her best result this year was finishing in fifth place at the Mediheal Hankookilbo Championship on April 17.
"It was my first time competing as defending champion last year," said Park. "I think that is why I was able to play happily for four days and win my second title. I will try to participate in this year's competition with a relaxed mind."
Expectations are also high for Ryu Hae-ran, who won the Nexen-St. Nine Masters 2022 last week, taking a one-stroke victory over rookie Kwon Seo-yeon at Gaya Country Club in Gimhae.
"My goal this year is to win a major championship,"said Ryu. "I was worried about my poor performance at the beginning of the season, but I gained confidence last week."
Three LPGA golfers — Kim Hyo-joo, Lee Jung-eun and Kim A-lim — will join the KLPGA for their first domestic event of the season.
"I haven't won the KLPGA Championship yet,"said Kim Hyo-joo. "I decided to participate because I really wanted to win this title. I think I'll be able to play well because it's been a while since there was an audience on the course."
Kim Hyo-joo is one of the two Korean golfers to have won an LPGA title this season, winning the Lotte Championship presented by Hoakalei on April 16.
"I'm in good condition," said Kim Hyo-joo. "I want to win the championship, but I will play with the goal of landing in the top ten."
The KLPGA Championship takes place at Ildong Lakes at Pocheon, Gyeonggi and starts Thursday.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]