Golf-Ko, Korda headline World Championship as fans return to Sentosa

By Hritika Sharma

(Reuters) – Lydia Ko and Nelly Korda headline a stellar field at this week’s HSBC Women’s World Championship, where nine of the world’s top 10 golfers will tee off as Singapore’s Sentosa Golf Club welcomes spectators for the first time since 2019.

New Zealander Ko, who won her season-opener in Saudi Arabia last month to open up a comfortable lead at the top of the world rankings over American Korda, is chasing an elusive first title in Singapore, where a 2015 runner-up finish is her best result.

“You can never get too cocky about what ranked player you are because it’s so tight at the top,” Ko said this week.

“Everyone is playing really well and you can’t say, ‘I’m going to be there forever’.

“When I was younger, I felt like being number one meant that I had to be winning or contending week in, week out, but that’s not necessarily true.”

Third-ranked Australian Minjee Lee is among last year’s five major champions competing for the $1.8 million prize purse in the 72-hole, no-cut event, while Ko Jin-young will be looking to defend her lone title of 2022 when play starts on Thursday.

The South Korean world number five, a twice major champion, was sidelined for much of last season with a wrist injury and missed back-to-back cuts for the first time in August. She tied for sixth in Thailand last week in her first start of 2023.

“I know there’s going to be pressure but I don’t want to think too much about it,” she said. “I just need to meditate as that has worked well for me in the past and has allowed me to focus more on my swing and golf shots.”

South Koreans have dominated the tournament dubbed “Asia’s major”, winning six of the last seven editions and seven of 14 overall since it was first held in 2008. The 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seven-times major winner Park In-bee, the only player to have won the title more than once, will not compete after announcing her pregnancy in December.

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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