Crowd favourite and two-time Major winner, Lorena won the inaugural HSBC Women’s Champions fending off a stellar international field that included 18 of the World’s Top 20 ranked players and competitors representing over 20 countries.
Lorena finished the week at 20 under par and was an amazing 11 shots clear of the rest of the field, with Annika Sorenstam and Paula Creamer, both winners in the preceding weeks’ LPGA tournaments, finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Lorena, winner of 24 LPGA titles including 7 events this year, explained, “It was very special for me to win the HSBC Champions at the start of this year – I worked really hard on my game over the winter so it was amazing and very satisfying to play so well and win in my first event of the season.
There were so many great players in the field and the HSBC Women’s Champions tournament is undeniably one of the top events on our Tour. The strength of the field, and the condition of the course, as well as the way we are looked after during the week made it very enjoyable. It was also very exciting to get to look around Singapore so I am really looking forward to returning in March.”
After winning the inaugural HSBC Women’s Champions in such commanding style, Ochoa went on to win another five tournaments, including a Major, by the middle of May. Her impressive winning streak stalled in the early part of the summer although, despite suffering two family bereavements in the space of two weeks, she finished in the top 10 of six of the seven events she played. After a recent spell at home in Mexico working on her short game, she returned to winner’s circle in September at the Navistar LPGA Classic.
“Lorena has shown what a great champion she is this year; not just in what she has won, but in how she has responded to adversity. We’re proud to have her returning to defend her HSBC Women’s Champions title, but we’re equally proud that our champion has shown such admirable human qualities,” said Giles Morgan, HSBC Group Head of Sponsorship.
Robbie Henchman, Director of Golf at IMG, the event promoters, added, “Nothing says world-class golf more than the words “defending champion Lorena Ochoa”. The way she won at the Tanah Merah Country Club last year, beating a top 10 full of in-form players who had already won or finished runner-up in 2008 – was stunning. Early indicators are that the field will be even stronger in 2009 as the word has spread amongst the players as to how much they enjoyed the first HSBC Women’s Champions. We are looking forward to an even more successful event in 2009.”
The qualification criteria is similar to that of the men’s HSBC Champions, with winners from around the world invited to compete for the coveted “Champion of Champions” title. Winners on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour, leading money winners from the Japan Ladies Professional Golf Association (JLPGA), Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) Tour, Ladies European Tour (LET), Australian Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG), Duramed FUTURES Tour, Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) and the top player from the continent of Africa will qualify, making this the most international and impressive women’s field ever assembled in Asia.
The 2009 HSBC Women’s Champions will boast a prize money of US$2 million (US$300,000 to the winner), the largest purse for a women’s event in Asia. The HSBC Women’s Champions, sanctioned by the LPGA, will be played over 72 holes of individual stroke play with a field of 78 golfers.
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images