New course adds to challenge at LPGA’s HSBC Women’s Champions

The LPGA plays in Asia for the second consecutive week as a select field of 63 golfers, including the entire top 20 from the Rolex World Rankings, tackle a new course at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.

This year’s event will be held from Thursday through Sunday at the Tanjong Course at Sentosa Golf Club after the previous four years’ competition was held at the facility’s Serapong Course. There is not cut in the competition with the total purse of $1.5 million distributed between all players and $225,000 going to the winner of the 72-hole event.

Inbee Park of South Korea, the gold medalist from the 2016 Rio Olympics who finished tied for 25th last week in her first action since the Summer Games, said Tuesday that the golfers will need to be on the attack to have success on the new layout, which plays at 6,683 yards and to a par of 72.

The course was inspired by iconic sandbelt golfing experiences with large bunkers rarely seen in Asia and is set against the Singapore Straits with metropolitan Singapore as a backdrop.

“It’s actually a little bit different to Serapong that we played the last few years,” Park said. “I think there’s going to be more birdies and better scores here on this golf course. The course is in good condition. Greens are a little bit slower than what we are used to, but I think it may get faster as the week goes on.”

Ha Na Jang of South Korea, returns to the event as the defending champion after winning the 2017 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open title two weeks ago.

At the 2016 HSBC Women’s Champions, Jang eagled the final hole to shoot a tournament-low 7-under 65 in the final round and claim her second career LPGA title. Her 65 set a new competitive record score for the event as Jang, who held the solo 54-hole lead, finished at 19-under par and four shots ahead of Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum.

This is the 10th year of the HSBC Women’s Champions. Nine different players have claimed titles including three Americans — Paula Creamer (2014), Stacy Lewis (2013) and Angela Stanford (2012).

Lexi Thompson has top-10 finishes in each of her first two starts on the LPGA this season and enters this week’s event as the world’s highest ranked American player. Thompson finished tied for fourth in last week’s Honda LPGA Thailand, nine shots behind runaway winner Amy Yang of South Korea.

“I’ve worked extremely hard in the off-season on my short game, especially my putting,” Thompson said. “It’s definitely something that’s come to help me in my last two events. I struggled a bit last week off the tee with my irons but I scrambled my way to a good score every day. But I made a lot of good putts, so that definitely saved me.”

World No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand headlines the field as 23 of the top 25 players will participate. Also in the field are No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, No. 3 In Gee Chun of South Korea, No. 4 Shanshan Feng of China and No. 5 Thompson.

This week’s HSBC Women’s Champions will mark the fourth event in the LPGA’s season-long Race to CME Globe. Thirteen of the tour’s 35 tournaments this season are being held outside of North America.

Through three events, American Brittany Lincicome leads with 560 points.