The LPGA continues its swing through the Pacific Rim this week with a stop in Singapore for the HSBC Women’s Champions. Ha Na Jang is the defending champion in the limited-field event, no-cut event which will include just 63 players. But the field is a strong one; the top 20 players in the world rankings are all on hand.
Defending champion Ha Na Jang is one of the hottest golfers on the planet after winning in Australia in the tour’s second event of the season. It was her second win since winning this event last year and the fourth LPGA win of her career. History is against her however. No HSBC champion has ever made a successful title defense.
Jang says an improved short game has been the key to her playing record over the last year. “My short game is now really good than last year after practice,” she said “and more in windy, because windy is so strong here now, so really been practicing windy. Australia wind is so strong and this one, just keep simple.”
Jang’s challengers will include Brittany Lincicome, who won in the Bahamas to start the 2017 season, along with Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson, Paula Creamer, Gerina Piller, Brooke Henderson, and Inbee Park.
Park (2015), Creamer (2014), and Lewis (2013) among the six past champions in the field, a group that also includes Angela Stanford (2012 winner) and Karrie Webb (2011). Webb has never finished outside the top 25 here.
Thompson, who lost a playoff to Lincicome in the Bahamas, is hoping the offseason work she did on the putting green will play off this season.
“I spent two hours on the putting green basically every day in the off-season,” she said “and I knew it was something that I needed to work on just going off the last few years, and it’s hopefully something that will show this year.”
This year’s tournament is being staged at a familiar venue, the Sentosa Golf Club complex, but on a different golf course, the Tanjong Course after being held on the Serapong Course the past four years. The start of the week was a time for the players to study the golf course.
“We are all trying to learn the golf course in the few days that we have coming off Thailand,” Thompson said. “So it will be interesting. The course is in great shape but the greens are firm, so it will definitely be a little tricky.”
After getting her first look at the layout, Thompson feels it will play to her strengths. “It’s pretty forgiving off the tee,” she said, “so it definitely helped me get into like a little mid to short irons on a few of those holes that I need to be able to stop them at a few of the pins if they tuck them. It will definitely be an advantage but I’m just going to try to hit it straight out there.”
This is the LPGA’s final stop on its early season swing through Asia. The tour will make its U.S. debut for 2017 at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Phoenix beginning March 16.