HSBC Women’s World Championship Preview 2019
LPGA TOUR MOVES TO SINGAPORE FOR WEEK FIVE OF THE 2019 SEASON
The LPGA Tour returns to Singapore this week for the 2019 HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa Golf Club’s Tanjong Course. With 63 of the world’s top players teeing it up in Singapore, the field is full of world-class golfers.
Defending champion Michelle Wie, returns to competition for her second start of the 2019 season after she made her season debut at last week’s Honda LPGA Thailand, where she finished T23. Last year, Wie carded a final-round 7-under-par 65 for one of the largest come-from-behind victories after a five-shot deficit and won the tournament at -17, one stroke ahead of four players—Jenny Shin, Danielle Kang, Brooke Henderson and Nelly Korda.
This week marks Wie’s 10th appearance of the event and is joined by World No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn, along with the top 15 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, including No. 4 Inbee Park making her season debut. 2019 LPGA Tour winner Eun-Hee Ji is also in this week’s star-studded field.
DEFENDING CHAMPION MICHELLE WIE PRESSES ON THROUGH INJURY
HSBC Women’s World Championship defending champion, Michelle Wie started getting back into golf form earlier this month after undergoing surgery on her right hand. Last year’s victory at Sentosa Golf Club was Wie’s fifth LPGA Tour win and she returns to Singapore with excitement and anticipation.
“I feel especially honored to be a defending champion of such a prestigious tournament. I feel extremely lucky to even be here this year, so I’m just soaking it all in and having a lot of fun, and really excited for the tournament to begin,” Wie said. “Just the feeling that I felt after last year, it was just incredible. I just felt so relieved. I knew that I had overcome a lot of stuff within the last couple of years. It felt really good.”
After suffering repercussions of a car accident that occurred two years ago, Wie suffered an avulsion fracture in her hand and extensive neck issues. The 29-year-old is taking careful precautions to work toward her 2019 goals: playing injury-free, making the Solheim Cup team and narrowing her focus in on another (major) win.
“I guess as an old person now, a veteran out on Tour, physio and recovery is key for me,” said Wie who started on the LPGA Tour as a rookie in 2009. “My life kind of revolves around it. I travel with my private physio and we have treatment every day, whether it’s getting needles in, whether it’s icing; I have my devices that I carry around with me. It’s everything. It’s eating right, drinking right. It’s just a whole thing.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DEFENDING CHAMPION MICHELLE WIE
- Wie’s victory at the 2018 HSBC Women’s World Championship was her fifth LPGA Tour career- her first victory since the 2014 season where she won the U.S. Women’s Open Championship and the LOTTE Championship
- After rehabbing a hand injury, Wie is competing in her second LPGA Tour event of 2019 since the 2018 KEB Hana Bank Championship; she finished T23 at the 2019 Honda LPGA Thailand
- This year, Wie is making her 10th appearance of the HSBC Women’s World Championship
- She is a five-time member of the U.S. Solheim Cup Team (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017) with an 8-9-1 overall record
- Wie represented the United States at the 2018 UL International Crown, where she posted a 1-3-0 record
THE BEST IS YET TO COME FROM ARIYA JUTANUGARN
For World No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn, the world ranking hasn’t really changed her. Instead, the 23-year-old has been working on focusing on things in her control instead of the outcome, taking each week and each shot as a learning opportunity to help her work towards finding her best form.
“I feel like [the ranking] hasn’t changed me much. The only thing changed is my ranking, really, like No. 2 and No. 1. Nothing much changed,” said Jutanugarn who returned to the No. 1 spot last October 29, 2018. “I still have to work on the same stuff. I still have to focus on the same stuff. You know, because I didn’t feel like last year was playing my best year, because I always felt like 2016 was my best year.”
In 2016, Jutanugarn won five of her 10 LPGA Tour titles including a major victory at the Ricoh Women’s British Open. Though Jutanugarn has occupied the No. 1 spot in the world and swept every major award on the LPGA Tour in 2018 including Rolex Player of the Year and three wins, she revealed on Tuesday that her best year has yet to come.
“Every time when I play with someone and they have an amazing shot, I feel like if it were me, I couldn’t do that. So I want to learn that. And especially when I watch the guys play, I feel like we have so much room to improve. When I watch Kiradech, I’m like, ‘can you teach me everything because I still think I can get a lot better.”
Jutanugarn will tee off at 10:20 a.m. with No. 3 Sung Hyun Park and No. 7 Minjee Lee for the first round of the HSBC Women’s World Championship.
RED-HOT KORDA RETURNS TO SENTOSA WITH HER CONFIDENCE SKY-HIGH
Twelve months on from a disappointing runner-up finish at the HSBC Women’s World Championship where she led the tournament heading into the final round, Nelly Korda is oozing confidence as the hottest player on the LPGA Tour. In her last six starts, she has won twice while posting three other top-10s. Her worst result during this sizzling run was a tie for 19th at the TOTO Japan Classic in November.
Korda leads the 2019 Race to the CME Globe with 780 points, and she also sets the pace in the LEADERS Top 10 competition, with three in her first three starts of the year. While her memories of last year’s HSBC Women’s World Championship are somewhat mixed after she came up agonizingly short in her bid to claim a first LPGA Tour victory, she returns this week to the New Tanjong Course at Sentosa Golf Club in buoyant spirits as a twice champion on the women’s circuit.
“I definitely feel more confident,” Korda said after playing in Wednesday’s pro-am competition. “I kind of know the ins and outs of this golf course after playing it once. But I’m just going to approach it like I do every week. It’s a new week. The course is playing completely different than it did last year … so I’m just going to approach it like I approach every week. It was a little disappointing (here last year) but I finished second and I had a good run. I realized that, you know, I can compete with all these top girls out here, so really, I took a lot of positives away from it, as well.”
Having finally clinched her first LPGA Tour victory at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship in October, Korda added a second earlier this month at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, where she triumphed by two shots. Unquestionably the hottest player on the LPGA Tour over the past four months, she knows how she wants the next four months to unfold. “Hopefully a lot of consistency,” she smiled. “That’s something that was a huge goal of mine this year, and I’m just going to take it tournament by tournament. Do my fundamentals, get ready and try to play my best.”
MINJEE LEE REACHES NO. 3 IN THE WORLD
Minjee Lee enters the 2019 HSBC Women’s World Championship as World No. 3 on the Rolex Rankings after jumping four spots—the highest rank she has reached in her four years on Tour. Lee made the jump into the top 10 on May 28, 2018 after her win at the LPGA Volvik Championship and the upward trend continues.
“I’m coming off a pretty good week last week, so I’ll probably just try to take the momentum from last week into this week,” said Lee, who finished last week’s Honda LPGA Thailand as runner-up. “I’m hitting it pretty solid and putting it pretty solid, so hopefully top ten, top five [this week].”
Lee is making her fifth appearance at the HSBC Women’s World Championship and looks to improve on her T6 finish from 2018. With her goals at hand, the 22-year-old has taken note of her maturity level and is satisfied with the progress she’s made—developing into a player ready to challenge for the No. 1 spot in the world.
“I really know what I need for myself now and what works best for me. I think in figuring that out a little bit, I got to settle myself down a little bit more on Tour and I sort of know where I stand and what I need to improve on to try to make it to world No. 1,” said Lee.
Along with Lee, Rolex Rankings World No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn and No. 2 Sung Hyun Park will tee off at 10:20 a.m. on the first tee for Round 1.
2020 OLYMPIC DREAMS FOR SO YEON RYU
So Yeon Ryu is a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour and was a member of the victorious 2018 UL International Crown but there’s one thing that the 29-year-old from Republic of Korea has not yet accomplished. Competing in Olympic Games. With golf’s re-entry into the Games in 2016, Ryu revealed her long-term goal of making the Olympic team in 2020.
“To make the 2020 Olympic Korean Team is going to be really tough, but if I’m playing really well in 2019, I can put myself in a really good position, so that’s my goal — even though it’s not really this year, that’s my long-term goal,” Ryu said with determination.
For the Olympic hopeful to qualify for her national team, Ryu’s strategy is to capitalize on every opportunity in 2019 with her sights on a win at this week’s HSBC Women’s World Championship.
“Hopefully my game is going to be better and better all the time and by Sunday I’m good enough to hold the trophy,” said Ryu, who will tee off in round one with fellow countrywoman Inbee Park and American Lexi Thompson. “For this week, like I said, hopefully I can have a better timing, and if I am great enough, for sure I want to win this tournament.”
GEORGIA HALL TAKES IN THE SIGHTS OF SINGAPORE
Second-year LPGA Tour player Georgia Hall is making the most of her second visit to Singapore, visiting the Singapore Zoo and making plans to dine at the iconic Marina Bay Sands later this week.
“A few of us went to visit at orangutan’s and have breakfast with them. So that was pretty cool. There’s a couple of baby ones and they are sweet. They were just eating their breakfast with us and they are really cute,” said the 22-year-old from England.
Hall became a Rolex First-Time Winner with her win at last year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open, where she was the first English player to win a major since Karen Stupples won in 2004. Though the title still hasn’t phased the No. 10 golfer in the world, Hall reminds herself of the major victory for quick surges of confidence on the course.
“I think I’m still slightly the same person and the way I think. But if I am playing bad on a hole or I’m struggling, I do say to myself, ‘Georgia, you won the British Open, and you’ve done that,’ which means I can kind of make two birdies now.”
Hall is making her second HSBC Women’s World Championship appearance this week— in 2018, she finished T48 where she shot 73-76-70-69.
RACE TO THE CME GLOBE UPDATE
Nelly Korda continues to lead the 2019 Race to the CME Globe with 780 points, followed by 2019 winners Eun-Hee Ji in second with 610 points and last week’s Honda LPGA Thailand winner Amy Yang in third with 576 points.
The 2019 season brings a fresh face to the Race to the CME Globe. LPGA Members will accumulate points at each official LPGA Tour event leading up to the CME Group Tour Championship. The top 60 points earners and ties will then earn a spot in the CME Group Tour Championship, with the entire field competing for the $5 million purse and the $1.5 million winner’s check, the largest single prize in the history of women’s golf.
Tournament: @HSBC_Sport; #HWWC, @hsbcwomensgolf (Instagram); #passionmadepossible
LPGA: @LPGA, @LPGAMedia (Twitter), @lpga_tour (Instagram)
TV TIMES (all times Eastern)
Wednesday, Feb. 27 to Thursday, Feb. 28 – 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., Golf Channel
Thursday, Feb. 28 to Friday, Mar. 1 – 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., Golf Channel
Friday, Mar. 1 to Saturday, Mar. 2 – 11:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., Golf Channel
Saturday, Mar. 2 to Sunday, Mar. 3 – 10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., Golf Channel
via LPGA TOUR