The LPGA will continue its early Asian swing in Singapore for the 15th edition of the HSBC Women’s World Championship. The illustrious event will celebrate the anniversary with a stellar field that features 18 of the top 20 in the Rolex Rankings.
The HSBC Women’s World Championship is fondly known as “Asia’s Major,” and rightly so. The list of past winners is who’s who of women’s golf. Eleven of the event’s 13 champions have won at least one major championship, including Jin Young Ko (2022), Hyo Joo Kim (2021) and Sung Hyun Park (2019) to name a few. All of five of 2022’s major champions will be competing in this week’s event: Chevron Champion Jennifer Kupcho, KPMG Women’s PGA Champion In Gee Chun, U.S. Women’s Open Champion Minjee Lee, Amundi Evian Champion Brooke Henderson and AIG Women’s Open Campion Ashleigh Buhai.
Jin Young Ko to Defend
Ko has made a resounding comeback after missing much of last season due to a wrist injury and is poised to defend her lone win of 2022. She first returned for the final events of 2022 and turned in uncharacteristic results: a missed the cut at the ANNIKA Driven by Gainbridge at Pelican and a T33 result at the CME Group Tour Championship. But at the Honda LPGA Thailand, Ko managed to turn in a final round 8-under 64 that vaulted her from T27 to T6, her best finish since the 2022 Amundi Evian Championship. Her 64 tied winner Lilia Vu for the low round of the day and was her best score since the Palos Verdes Championship presented by Bank of America.
South Koreans Find Success in Singapore
South Korean players have dominated “Asia’s Major” in recent years; in six of the last seven installments of the event, a Korean player has hoisted the trophy. The past three tournaments have seen Korean winners in Ko, Hyo Joo Kim and Sung Hyun Park. Before that, Inbee Park won twice in 2015 and 2017 with Ha Na Jang taking the title in 2016. American Michelle Wie West just managed to break up the streak of Korean winners with a one-shot victory over Jenny Shin. Ten more Koreans are set to join Ko and Chun at the Sentosa Golf Club this week, including Shin and Kim.
The First First-Time Winner
Vu earned her maiden win last week in Thailand and became 2023’s first Rolex First-Time Winner. Though she was six shots back of the lead, Vu turned in a stellar 8-under final round to edge out rookie Natthakritta Vongtaveelap by one shot. But the 25-year-old will have little time to celebrate as she will join this week’s field. Last season saw a record 11 players record their first LPGA Tour win starting with Nanna Koertz Madsen at the Honda LPGA Thailand. With the ever-increasing parity on tour, more first-time winners should be coming along momentarily.
Inviting Rising Stars
Five of golf’s rising stars in Asia received sponsorship invites to the event and will get a coveted opportunity to play alongside the best in the world. The invitees are two-time Olympian Tiffany Chan, Yu Liu, world No. 31 Mao Saigo, Shi Yuting and Singapore’s own Amanda Tan who won the HSBC Women’s World Championship Qualifying Tournament to advance to the LPGA event for the fifth time.