Season-ending World No.1 and major award winners look forward to competing for the 'Champion of Champions' title this February
Singapore, 30 December 2010 - Having ended this year's LPGA Tour season on a high, Asia's female golfing superstars Jiyai Shin, Na Yeon Choi and Yani Tseng are already looking forward to next year after confirming their participation in the HSBC Women's Champions 2011.
The tournament, known as 'Asia's Major', will be held at the Tanah Merah Country Club (TMCC) from 24th to 27th February 2011.
The star trio will join defending champion, Ai Miyazato, who announced in October she would be returning to Singapore to defend her title.
In an exciting end to the LPGA Tour season, the Rolex Player of the Year and Vare Trophy awards, as well as the LPGA Official Money List and Rolex Rankings No.1 titles, were decided at the LPGA Tour Championship in Florida earlier this month.
South Korean Shin secured year-end No.1 status on the Rolex Rankings in what had been a tightly contested affair amongst the world's top six players. Going in to the LPGA Tour Championship, Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr, Tseng, Choi and Ai Miyazato were tightly bunched in the race to usurp Shin and finish in the top spot.
For Shin, ending the year on top of the standings was a wonderful way to round off yet another successful season on the LPGA Tour. The 2009 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year won two Tour events this year to add to her outstanding total of 34 professional wins after five seasons of full-time professional competition.
The winner of the HSBC Women's Champions in 2009, Shin is hoping for a successful return to the tournament next year. "I was honoured to finish the season as the No.1 on the Rolex Rankings. However, the off-season will be important for me if I am to stay in the top spot next year and do well in the HSBC Women's Champions in February.
"I have many fond memories of competing in Singapore and it would be wonderful to win there again", she said.
Shin was also in the running for the Tour's points-based Rolex Player of the Year award which eventually went to Chinese Taipei's Tseng. At the age of 21, she is the second-youngest winner of the award and had been the front-runner after her Major championship wins at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Ricoh Women's British Open.
She also won the P&G NW Arkansas Championship and achieved eight top-10 finishes in 19 Tour tournaments to finish ahead of Kerr and Choi.
Tseng finished tied for third at the HSBC Women's Champions 2010 and expects a challenging tournament in Singapore. She said: "The HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore is always a prestigious tournament to play in. The field will be very strong and the course requires a lot of shot-making and you really need all 14 clubs in the bag. Winning the Rolex Player of the Year award this year is just an amazing achievement and I am motivated to work even harder for next season."
Meanwhile, 23-year-old Choi from South Korea left it to the final round of the LPGA Tour Championship to win the Vare Trophy, given to the player with the best scoring average throughout the season. Her final round score of 70 meant she finished the year with a 69.87 scoring average, just enough to pip Kerr who scored a 73 to end up with an average of 69.95.
Choi enjoyed more success as she also clinched the Official Money List title having earned $1,814,558 this year. She finished ahead of last season's winner and compatriot Shin who earned $1,779,768. Earlier in the month, Choi had donated $30, 000 to the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, a program of the LPGA Foundation.
Choi has enjoyed this breakout year on the LPGA Tour but believes that a strong start to the 2011 season will keep her on top of her game.
"It's unbelievable to win the Vare Trophy and the Official Money List title and I know I have to work even harder next year to stay on top of my game. The opening tournaments of the 2011 season will be very important for me, especially the HSBC Women's Champions. I feel very much at home playing in Singapore and hopefully I can do better than my top-10 finish when I played in the tournament in 2010," she said.
Giles Morgan, Group Head of Sponsorship, HSBC Holdings, said, "When we moved our women's tournament from the US to Asia we knew that a very special group of Asian golfers was about to emerge. Jiyai and Na Yeon were among the Dragon Ladies, the single year group of golfers that Korea knew were going to be exceptional, and Yani had shown plenty of promise as an amateur. It's just really exciting to see them growing, maturing and becoming a force and it's even more exciting that the HSBC Women's Champions is a focal point for them to showcase what Asia has to offer."
Alex Hungate, CEO, HSBC Singapore added: "As the world's local bank, HSBC helps you unlock the world's potential by providing financial advice and support wherever and whenever you need it. The HSBC Women's Champions demonstrates the exciting potential that can be unlocked when the best talent from all over the world is brought together."
"This is one of the premier tournaments on the LPGA calendar featuring champions and we are delighted that these top players from Asia - Choi, Shin, Tseng and Miyazato, will be competing for honours here. Fans can expect an exciting start to the 2011 season and the opportunity to witness the best that ladies golf has to offer when the tournament kicks off this February", said Robbie Henchman, Senior Vice President of tournament promoters, IMG.
The HSBC Women's Champions is the second tournament on the 2011 LPGA Tour calendar and will see the field competing for the coveted 'Champion of Champion's' title and an increased prize fund of US$1.4 million.
Players qualify for the HSBC Women's Champions 2011 by winning tournaments on the LPGA Tour or finishing this year in the Top 20 on the Rolex Rankings (as at December 31, 2010).
The stellar field will also include two sponsors' invitations, of which one will be the winner of a two-day local qualifying tournament for Singaporean amateur and professionals to be held at TMCC from 26 to 27 January 2011.
The 2010 HSBC Women's Champions attracted the strongest field ever seen in Asia, with the top 20 players from the Rolex Women's World Golf Ranking and the top 55 players from the 2009 LPGA official money list in the field.
Further details on the HSBC Women's Champions 2011 and additional star players who have confirmed their participation in the event in Singapore will be announced in the coming weeks.
For more information on the HSBC Women's Champions 2011, please visit the tournament website at http://www.hsbcgolf.com.