After a tied for eighth finish in the season-opening Women's Australia Open and a slow start last week at the Honda LPGA Thailand, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng found a way to wipe away the off-season rust and get back to her winning ways. Despite carding a 73 in the first round in Thailand, Tseng posted back-to-back rounds of 65 and carded a final round 66 to defend her title and earn her first victory of the season
In her post round press conference, Tseng admitted the pressure of repeating greatness this year was getting to her. "I feel much more pressure coming into this year. Last year when I started, I was nothing, I was just in the top-five in the world but I don't have 12 wins or World No. 1 title. After last year, I have World No. 1 and I had 12 wins and that pressure keeps going on and on." Tseng has no pressure of repeating this week, as she has yet to add the HSBC Women's Champions to her list of career victories. She looks to improve on solid past performances in Singapore which include two top-three finishes (T3- 2010 and third-2011) and T11 in 2009.
Defending champion and Rolex Rankings No. 19 Karrie Webb is coming off her first top-10 finish of the season, finishing ninth in last week's Honda LPGA Thailand, which included a second-round hole-in-one (fifth of her career). In her career, Webb has performed well in Singapore and finished in the top-20 each year of the tournament's history, beginning in 2008 (T5- 2008, T9- 2009, T19- 2010).
In Good Company
The HSBC Women's Champions has consistently served as a winning stop for the LPGA's top players as each of the past four champions have claimed the Rolex Rankings No. 1 position at some point in their careers. Lorena Ochoa (2008), Jiyai Shin (2009), Ai Miyazato (2010), and Karrie Webb (2011) have all hoisted the trophy in Singapore and held the world's top spot.
The HSBC Women's Champions was Shin's first win as an official LPGA member and held on to the No. 1 ranking for 16 weeks in 2010. Following Miyazato's victory in 2010, the Japan native moved into the world's top ranking for an 11-week span. Both are coming off strong finishes in Thailand as they filled out the top-three in last week's event (Shin finished third at 17-under and Miyazato second at 18-under).
The only players in the field this week without an HSBC victory but a No. 1 world ranking on their resume: Yani Tseng and Cristie Kerr.
Consistent Stacy Lewis
Stacy Lewis is off to the best start of her five-year career in 2012 and is the only player to record consecutive top-five finishes in the season's first two events. Lewis tied for second and was part of the six-player sudden-death playoff at the Women's Australian Open where she shot rounds of 69, 73, 77, 70, qualifying her for the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event in November. She took her momentum to Thailand where she finished 10-under par, good for a tied for fifth finish. Lewis looks to improve on her last year's performance in Singapore (T9) and to earn her first victory of 2012.
No Red, White, and Blue
In its four-year history, no American has captured the HSBC Women's Champions title, but several players in the field this week representing the USA are looking to give the U.S. its second victory in the 2012 season. American Jessica Korda earned her first career win at the season-opening Women's Australian Open.