South Koreans begin season on a strong note
Despite their recent winning ways on the LPGA, when Jiyai Shin and Inbee Park won the ISPS Women’s Australian Open and Honda LPGA Thailand the last two weeks, it marked only the second time that South Korean golfers have begun a season with consecutive victories. Joo Mi Kim and Meena Lee won the first two events of the 2006 season in Hawaii.
Adding to the recent success, the victories by Shin and Park marked three wins in a row by a South Korean on the LPGA. Na Yeon Choi won the CME Group Titleholders to end the 2012 season. South Koreans won a season-high eight times in 2012.
The last time three women from the same country won the first three events of the season came in 2007 when Americans Paula Creamer, Stacy Prammanasudh and Meaghan Francella won in Hawaii and Mexico to begin the season.
Angela Stanford has started the season with a T28 and a T25 at the season’s first two events. Each week, she began with low rounds (68 in Australia and 69 in Thailand) before falling back. This week, she defends the title in the HSBC Women’s Champions at a tournament where she has recorded three top-10 finishes in five starts.
Stanford has won five times on the LPGA. Here is how she has done in four previous title defenses:
|2003 ShopRite Classic||Cut|
|2008 Bell Micro||9 (next played in 2010)|
|2008 Lorena Ochoa||33|
|2009 SBS Open||2009 last event|
New course for HSBC Women’s Champions
After playing at Tanah Merah Country Club in Singapore for the first five years of the HSBC Women’s Champions, the tournament will move to the Serapong course at Sentosa Golf Club for the next three years. The 36-hole complex is located at the southeastern tip of Singapore’s island resort, Sentosa. The Serapong course opened in 1982, designed by Ronald Fream, and was the site of the Barclays Singapore Open on the Asian Tour through 2012. Among the winners at the Serapong course were Adam Scott three times, Ian Poutler and 19-year-old Matteo Manassero last year.
The Serapong was named the "Best Golf Course in Singapore" at the 2012 Asian Golf Monthly Awards along with the runners-up spot for "Best Championship Course in Asia Pacific."
The 6,600-yard, par-72 course has water in play on 10 holes and ends with a 498-yard par 5 that has water down the left side.
Tseng’s big finishes
If Yani Tseng could only play 54 holes before the competition began she would be in marvelous shape. Tseng, who is No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings for a 107th consecutive week, has closed with a 7-under 66 and a 9-under 63 in the first two tournaments of the 2013 season to finish second and tied for third. In eight rounds, Tseng has only one over-par round – a 3-over 75 to start last week’s Honda LPGA Thailand. Tseng is looking to break a victory drought that dates back to March 2012.
The last two weeks on the LPGA, a 15-year old (Lydia Ko) and a 17-year old (Ariya Jutanugarn) have held the 54-hole lead. Jutanugarn, a rookie from Thailand on the Ladies European Tour, is in this week’s field on a sponsor exemption. Ko will be a celebrity amateur in the men’s New Zealand PGA Championship, playing the final two rounds with a professional partner.
With the teen-aged contenders, sometimes it’s forgotten that the first two winners are also very young – Jiyai Shin and Inbee Park are both 24.
This week’s HSBC Women’s Champions will be the last international event on the LPGA until July. There will be 12 consecutive events in the United States, beginning with the RR Donnelley Founders Cup March 14-17. If you include Canada, there will be 14 consecutive events in North America. … Beatriz Recari has played 129 consecutive rounds on the LPGA since missing a cut at the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic. That streak is over 35 consecutive tournaments without missing a start. Recari has played in every tournament since the start of the 2011 season. … Through two LPGA events, Lydia Ko has hit 80 percent of the fairways, 73 percent of the greens in regulation and is averaging 249.3 yards off the tee. … Stacy Lewis, the 2012 LPGA Player of the Year, started the season with a T15 and a T3 in Australia and Thailand. Her combined score (284-278 to total 562) is five strokes lower than her two-tournament total in 2012, but she finished T2 and T5 to begin 2012. … So Yeon Ryu is not in this week’s field after graduating Monday with a degree in Physical Education from Yonsei University in South Korea. Jiyai Shin also attended Yonsei, the oldest private university in South Korea.
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