Jin Young Ko successfully defended her HSBC Women’s World Championship by winning the title on Sunday 5 March 2023
South Korea’s Ko Jin-young became the first player to successfully defend her HSBC Women’s World Championship title when the world number five closed with a three-under- par 69 for a two-shot victory over Nelly Korda on Sunday.
Japan’s Ayaka Furue signed off with her week’s best score of 67 to share third place with Americans Allisen Corpuz and Danielle Kang on 274 total while 2021 U.S. Open champion Yuka Saso recorded a 66 to finish in solo sixth place at the US$1.8 million LPGA event. Victory at the Sentosa Golf Club was especially sweet for the 27-year-old as it also marked her return to the winner’s circle for the first time since her last win at the same venue 12 months ago.
A wrist injury had threatened to derail her career since that victorious day and despite admitting earlier in the week that she has not fully recovered from that injury, Ko continued to prove she has enough class to lift her 14th LPGA Tour title in Singapore. Ko made a promising start with an opening birdie before reeling two more birdies on holes five and eight. The South Korean marred her card with her only blemish on 11 but she quickly regained her advantage with another birdie on 13.
Heavy rain once again disrupted play in the afternoon but it did little to stop the South Korean from marching towards another grandstand finish when she returned to par her last three holes after play resumed slightly more than an hour later.
“It's a great honour to defend this title again. This week has been too long for me but I’m feeling so happy. I didn’t want to lose to the other players, especially today. So, it was really hard to keep my poker face on the course even as I tried to stay focused.
“I had a tough year last year, and I was battling with injuries and loss in form. Mentally it’s tough too. So, this win is especially important and it's going to be a big momentum for me in my life,” said Ko.
Korda, who started the final round two shots back of Ko in second place, fired three successive birdies starting from the third hole to pile the initial pressure on Ko. However, her bogeys on holes six and 13 caused her to lose ground with Ko. She tried to surmount another late charge with a further two birdies on 14 and 18, but they were not enough for Korda to capture her ninth LPGA title this week.
“I’m obviously a little disappointed with today. I didn't play well and couldn’t really put up a battle as much as I wanted to. I made silly mistakes here and there. I’m going to take a couple of days off before going to work on my swing,” said Korda. The battle for supremacy on the fairways of the Tanjong course at Sentosa Golf Club also saw American Danielle Kang, the second round leader, staged a strong comeback by charging out of the gates with four birdies in her front-nine.
Another birdie on the par-five 13 gave Kang a glimmer of hope as it brought her to within one shot of the lead then. However, a bogey on 16 eventually put paid to any hopes of a fightback for the 30-year- old, who continued to remain upbeat despite another near-miss.
“I left it all out there, but we got a lot of good things down this week, and I'm happy about that. I've been testing balls and wedges like every other week, and I feel like it's finally getting together. So, I'm actually proud of the way I played,” said Kang.
Singapore’s Amanda Tan meanwhile signed off with rounds of 76, 74, 73 and 73 for an eight-over-par 296 - the best result a local has ever recorded at the HSBC Women’s World Championship. “I must say I didn't putt as well as I hoped for, but yeah, it was still a good week. There are a lot of things I can take out of this week like my putting. More importantly, I have to keep working hard and not forgetting to be easy on myself too,” said Tan.
The HSBC Women’s World Championship featured 17 of the world’s top 20, including all of the world’s top five. This year marked the 15th edition of the HSBC Women’s World Championship and remarkably, of the 14 previous winners, 12 are Major champions, lending yet further credibility to the player’s claim that this is ‘Asia’s Major.’
Image credit : Getty Images (photos captured over the entirety of the tournament)