The Singapore island of Sentosa is set to welcome the world's top female golfers next month, when the Sentosa Golf Club (SGC) hosts the HSBC Women's World Championship from March 3-6.
The US$1.7 million tournament will be played on the SGC's 6,504 metre, par-72 New Tanjong Course, and is poised for heated competition on its greens.
The world-class field features nine of the 10 women sitting atop the Rolex World rankings, including Kim Hyo-joo, who will remember the New Tanjong Course very fondly. The South Korean ended a five-year trophy-less run when she won the 2021 edition of the HSBC Women's World Championship last May.
Kim will be joined by Major winners Brooke Henderson, Danielle Kang, as well as 2021 U.S. Women's Open champion Yuka Saso. The world No. 7 became the first golfer -- male or female -- from Philippines' to win a Major, although she started competing under the Japanese flag in November 2021 and finished 6th at January's Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions, her first tournament as a Japan national.
The field at the HSBC Women's World Championship, dubbed "Asia's major", also includes Ko Jin-young -- who was named 2021's Player of the Year, with more than $3.5 million U.S. in prize money from five LPGA Tour titles, including the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship -- Lydia Ko, and Park Inbee, who has 21 LPGA Tour victories, an Olympic gold medal, as well as two victories in Singapore under her belt.
Park finished tied for third at the 2021 HSBC Women's World Championship in Singapore, with China's Lin Xiyu and Thai world No.13 Patty Tavatanakit.
Tavatanakit leads the list of Southeast Asia's best golfers at the 2022 edition, including fellow Thai golfers -- and siblings -- Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn, with host country Singapore represented by 33-year-old Koh Sock Hwee.
Koh had previously competed at the main tournament in 2012, 2015 and 2015 and was delighted to have won the local qualifier to earn the ticket to her fourth appearance at the tournament where she will play with former world No.1 Lydia Ko, who won last month's Gainbridge LPGA event in Florida.
Koh said: "This year is a bit more special because we haven't been able to compete the past two years due to Covid-19, so everybody wanted that spot because it's Asia's Major.
"I would like to play with Lydia, I played with her as an amateur, I think it was 2011. She's in great form now, and it would be nice to play with her again."
A greener golf tournament
The SGC has been crowned the World Golf Awards' "World's Best Eco-Friendly Golf Facility" for two consecutive years, and is also the first golf club in the world to sign the United Nations' Sports for Climate Action Initiative. Alongside its partners, the SGC is set to make 2022 the most sustainable edition in the tournament's history, with sustainable features seen across its course, clubhouse and even transportation options.
Kim, Ko and company will be whisked around in Lexus electric vehicles, and play on the New Tanjong Course that is fertilised by food and horticultural waste and is irrigated by 1,200 water-saving single, head control sprinklers -- the first of its kind in Asia.
A pandemic-safe event
The tournament returned to the Lion City in 2021 after a coronavirus-enforced cancellation in 2020, but this -- the 9th edition of the event -- will continue to witness some residual impact of the pandemic. As part of COVID-19 safe management measures in force, this year's edition of the tournament will be a non-ticketed event.
Although the Singapore government announced recently that the country will be easing pandemic measures, including those centred on sports spectatorship, it remains unclear if fans will be allowed onto the pristine New Tanjong Course to watch the best women golfers in the world.