Ha Na Jang returns to the LPGA Tour to defend
Despite capturing four titles in her brief LPGA Tour career and earning more than $2.5 million, Ha Na Jang returned to her native South Korea in May 2017 after the Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Match Play presented by Aeromexico and Delta to spend more time with her family.
She said at the time: “I thought being world No. 1 was the only goal in my life and that was where my happiness comes from. But I realized there are many more important things than that. Even though I won four times, I still felt empty inside.”
Jang returns to action on the LPGA Tour this week, where she’ll defend her title at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. She played her final six holes at 5-under par, including making an eagle and a birdie on the 71st and 72nd holes respectively.
She won by three shots over Nanna Koerstz Madsen and the win kick-started a run of three top-5 finishes in four events for Jang.
Although this is the first LPGA Tour event for Jang since the CME Group Tour Championship, she spent most of last year playing on the Korean LPGA Tour.
Seven other 2017 winners are in the field this week along with Jang, including Brooke Henderson, Ariya Jutanugarn, Cristie Kerr, Katherine Kirk, Jin Young Ko, Haru Nomura, and So Yeon Ryu.
Lydia Ko makes 2018 debut
After a winless campaign in 2017, Lydia Ko returns to LPGA Tour action this week at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. Remarkably, at age 20, this marks her eighth Women’s Australian Open appearance.
Ko, who sits 10th on the Rolex Rankings, finished runner-up three times in 2017, which was her best finish on Tour. She also finished tied for third at The Evian Championship, her best result in a major last year.
Ko finished tied for 46th a year ago at this event after rounds of 71-75-73-75.
She won the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in 2015 in a playoff over Amy Yang, and was runner-up in 2016.
Other golfers in the top-10 of the Rolex Rankings who will be in the field this week in Adelaide include No.3 So Yeon Ryu, No.7 Ariya Jutanugarn, and No.9 Cristie Kerr.
Australians playing on home soil
14 Australians will be teeing it up this week at the Kooyonga Golf Club in Adelaide, led by Minjee Lee and Sarah Jane Smith who topped all other homegrown golfers a year ago, both tying for third.
Rebecca Artis (T24), Ellen Davies-Graham (CUT), Karis Davidson (CUT), Hannah Green (T7), Whitney Hillier (T62), Sarah Kemp (T52), Grace Kim (NS), Katherine Kirk (T52), Stephanie Na (T58), Su Oh (T14), Alexandra Orchard (NS), and Karrie Webb (CUT), are also in the field.
Kirk captured the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in July last year, marking the lone event won by an Australian on the LPGA Tour in 2017.
Webb was the last Australian to win the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, having accomplished the feat in 2014.
Momentum on Hsu’s side
Wei-Ling Hsu from Chinese Taipei is the lone golfer from the first event of the LPGA Tour’s 2018 season who finished in the top five who has made the trip to the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
Hsu finished runner-up at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, just two shots behind winner Brittany Lincicome. She’s looking for her first LPGA Tour win, and she’ll have the confidence of a runner-up already under her belt.Bronte Law, Brooke Henderson, and Laetitia Beck all finished in the top 10 in the Bahamas and will also be in the field this week in Adelaide.