Im Jin-hee faces tough competition in Ladies Cup title defense
Im Jin-hee will try to defend her title at the BC Card Hankyung Ladies Cup 2022 at Fortune Hills in Pocheon, Gyeonggi starting Thursday.
This year’s BC Card Hankyung Ladies Cup is the eighth edition of the event, with five past winners joining the field.
The champion of the inaugural edition is Jang Ha-na, who won in 2015 with a score of 276. Oh Ji-hyun then won in 2016 and defended her title in 2017, becoming the only golfer to win the tournament more than once. Choi Hye-jin, who started playing in the United States this season, won the 2018 title, Cho Jeong-min won in 2019, Kim Ji-yeong won in 2020 then Im won in 2021.
With the exception of Choi, who is playing on the LPGA Tour this season, all five past winners will join the field on Thursday, vying for the trophy. The total purse is 800 million won for the event, and the champion will take home 144 million won.
Last year, Im won her first-ever trophy at the BC Card Hankyung Ladies Cup, coming from behind to overcome a five-stroke gap in the final round.
“I could think that there is nothing special about competing as a defending champion, but I think it’s natural to want to defend your title,” said Im. “I will prepare well for the event and try my best to defend my title.”
Im has not yet won a title this season, her best result being a third place finish at the first tournament of the season in April, the Lotte Rent-a-Car Open. Of the 10 events she has teed off in, Im has made the cut in seven and has three top-10 finishes.
“My goal is to win my first title of the season,” said Im.
“By the end of this season, I want to be able to earn twice what I earned last year. I worked on my shots ahead of this season. I was able to lengthen my shot distance and got better at landing my shots on the green. I feel that my shots have improved a lot.”’
Alongside Im, Lim Hee-jeong, who won the national title on Sunday at the DB Group Korea Women's Open Golf Championship, will be looking for her second title of the season.
Lim showed off some serious form at Rainbow Hills last week, carding a record score of 19-under-par, the lowest-ever winning score of the Korea Women's Open. The previous lowest score is 17-under-par, 271, a record tied by 2018 champion Oh Ji-hyun and 2021 champion Park.
Lim winning the major tournament seven strokes ahead of the 2021 Player of the Year Park Min-ji at a notoriously difficult event played on a complicated golf course may signal a crucial return to form.
Her return to form follows a car accident ahead of starting her season in April, Lim had to withdraw from the season's second event, the inaugural Mediheal-Hankook Ilbo Championship that ran from April 14 to April 17. At the time, Lim had said that she banged her head against the windshield and had some contusions but no serious injuries.
She was back on the field at the Nexen-Saintnine Masters 2022 and finished ninth, but Lim withdrew from the KLPGA Championship the following week and then failed to make the cut at the NH Investment & Securities Ladies Championship in the first week of May.
Lim found her form back at the Doosan Match Play Championship at Ladena Golf Club in Chuncheon, Gangwon, finishing in third place.
“To tell the truth, I am having difficulties in maintaining my physical strength,” said Lim.
“So I tried not to think of winning too much this week but because I played well last week, I do want to try for a win for the second consecutive time. But Fortune Hills is a difficult golf course because it's long and because the wind whirls. I think it's important to have accurate shots. I can still feel some aftereffects of the car accident. I want to be able to focus on getting my physical strength back and getting good results.”
A total of 132 golfers will tee off on Thursday at Fortune Hills in Pocheon, Gyeonggi.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]