HSBC Women’s Champions 2009 announced today that more stars will be coming to Singapore for the second edition of ‘Asia’s major’ in March. The field of 78 female champions will include legendary Korean Se Ri Pak and two of the brightest young stars in the women’s game; world number three Paula Creamer and British Open champion and world number five Ji Yai Shin.
All three players will be returning to the Tanah Merah Country Club for the second edition of Asia’s premier women’s golf tournament from 5-8th March.
Together with Taiwan’s world number two Yani Tseng, who confirmed her participation in December, 22-year-old Creamer and 20 year-old Shin are very much the future of women’s golf.
Creamer, known as the Pink Panther, enjoyed the best year of her golfing life in 2008, finishing in second place on the LPGA Money List after winning a career-best four events on Tour and recording a further 10 top-ten finishes. Her victories take the young American to a total of eight LPGA titles since joining the Tour in 2005.
“I took a step up last year in converting more of my high finishes into wins and I want to build on that in 2009, particularly in the top-tier events like the HSBC Women’s Champions,” said Creamer.
Finishing third in last year’s inaugural event at TMCC, Paula knows what it will take to be the Champion of Champions. She continued, “Last year’s HSBC Women’s Champions was an awesome event. Lorena played well, Annika and I battled it out behind her, and right behind us were a host of others who were also playing well. The field will be as strong as any we'll have all year, and I'm sure the winner will be setting themselves up for a great year. I am looking forward to returning to Singapore once again, and to playing in the HSBC Women's Champions event."
South Korean sensation Ji Yai Shin returns to Singapore with the official status of an LPGA rookie, even though she won three times on the tour last year. Shin joined Yani Tseng in making her first LPGA victory a Major. While Tseng took the McDonalds LPGA Championship, Ji Yai took the 2008 Ricoh Women’s British Open and went on to claim the 2008 Mizuno Classic and the US$1 million winner’s jackpot at the season-ending ADT Championship. In a record breaking season Shin became the first non-LPGA member to win three LPGA tournaments and the first player ever to complete a Grand Slam of the Korean Majors. Having finished in seventh place and top Korean at the 2008 HSBC Women’s Champions, she returns this year eager to challenge for yet another victory.
“I like the tournament; it’s a really good event. It’s a very tough course. The fairways are narrow and the greens are high. I thought I did really well last year shooting seven-under par – on that course in those conditions it was a good score - and yet Lorena was so much better than the rest of us. Whoever wins this year is going to have to play world-class golf for four days to beat such a great field.”
Like Shin, Se Ri Pak, will be back for her second year at HSBC Women’s Champions to compete with her compatriots and other champions.
Pak is one of only three World Golf Hall of Fame members still playing on the LPGA (along with Karrie Webb and Juli Inkster). The first Korean ever to be granted that lofty status, she has 24 LPGA victories to her name across a 13 year professional career, and is personally responsible for inspiring the wave of young Korean girls currently flooding into the upper echelons of the world game.
Pak said, “It is great to see so many Koreans coming through and I am proud to have played a part in that growth. Ji Yai had a great season in 2008 and it will be fun having her with us at this year’s HSBC Women’s Champions. Her generation of players really came of age last year when both Ji Yai and Inbee Park won Majors. They’re all such great players and they can only improve with experience.”
With reigning champion and world number one Lorena Ochoa having already confirmed that she’ll be back to defend her title, this latest announcement confirms that this year’s HSBC Women’s Champions has attracted all of the top five players on the current world rankings, justifying the tournament’s instantly-earned reputation as one of the top events on the world calendar.
“It’s a world-class event and, just as we’ve found with the HSBC Champions in China, world-class events attract world-class players,” stated Giles Morgan, HSBC Group Head of Sponsorship.
“What excites me is we have this group of very young talented Asians, led by Ji Yai and Yani, all snapping at Lorena’s heels. Last year Lorena’s win was the start of a dominant first half of the year and I think this year’s tournament is going to be just as significant,” he added.
Robbie Henchman, Senior Vice President of IMG commented, “Spectators at this year’s HSBC Women’s Champions will once again be treated to the best line-up in Asia. The top LPGA stars will be teeing off in only their fourth event on the 2009 calendar so it will be a vey exciting contest as they battle to take their place at the top of the rankings.”
The qualification criteria mirrors 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 all qualify, making this the most international and impressive women’s field ever assembled in Asia.
Joining the elite field at Asia’s richest female golfing event will be one lucky Singaporean. The Local Qualification tournament takes place at TMCC on 5th and 6th February and the winner will represent Singapore for the four days of competition.
The HSBC Women’s Champions 2009 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.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS