Hyo Joo Kim became the sixth player from South Korea to lift the HSBC Women’s World Championship trophy after yet another dramatic finish at Sentosa Golf Club, Singapore.
Dubbed ‘Asia’s Major’, the 2021 edition of the HSBC Women’s World Championship certainly didn’t disappoint, with the lead frequently changing hands in the closing stages of the tournament as Kim, Inbee Park and Hannah Green jostled for position at the top of the leaderboard.
But safely in the clubhouse, it was Kim’s final round of 64 that saw the 25-year old emerge victorious and end a five-year wait for her fouth LPGA Tour win, together with the US$240,000 winner’s cheque.
“Winning after such a long time, it feels like my first win of all. It feels like a dream at this moment," said Kim, who finished at 17-under par.
“I thought everybody had the opportunity to win. I didn't make any mistakes on the front nine, and as I went to the back nine, I felt I might be able to win it.
“My goal this year was to get a win, and I'm glad I already achieved that. While I was playing on the KLPGA Tour last year, I honed my skills and wanted to adapt them to this year on the LPGA, and I'm very happy that these results came out."
The result was a blow to Green. An eagle on the par-4 14th saw the Australian take the outright lead, and it looked as though the 24-year old from Perth had a third LPGA win in the bag. But bogeys on both the 17th and 18th holes and round of 69 handed a one-shot victory to Kim, leaving Green to reflect on what might have been.
“I didn't really feel like I was in it until I holed the shot on 14. That was a nice way to get my momentum. Made a really good putt on 16 to make birdie, but obviously pretty disappointed to have two three-putts finishing. Felt a little nerves on the last, which is nice, because I guess having the spectators out there it kind of meant something to me. So I'm obviously very close, so I just hope that I can continue this momentum and who knows, have a good result next week,” Green said.
Overnight leader Xiyu Lin’s quest for a maiden tournament win continues with the 25-year old from China undoubtably getting closer. A graduate of the CGA-HSBC China Junior Golf programme and a sponsor invite to this year’s tournament, her third place finish is testament to the impact the programme continues to have on golf development in China.
"Obviously pretty disappointed to have two three-putts finishing ... I'm obviously very close, so I just hope that I can continue this momentum and who knows, have a good result next week." – Hannah Green
“Right now I'm definitely a little sad but overall if I just calm down and think through this week, I'm very grateful for what I've done. If you told me at the beginning of the week, I'm going to do that well, like finish top three, I'll be like, ‘are you kidding’.”
Reflecting on the support lent to her by tournament sponsor HSBC, Lin added: “Throughout my whole career, HSBC is definitely one of [a few] sponsors that is participating in every part of my career. The first year being a rookie on Tour, I got one sponsor invite to play in this tournament, and then this year, same. I just feel really grateful that we have that kind of company supporting the whole of golf in China.”
Patty Tavatanakit saved her best until last. After a modest start to the week, the 21-year old major winner from Bangkok played herself right into contention on the final day in Singapore. Her round of seven-under-par 65 saw her join Lin in a share of third place. Playing for the first time in the tournament, courtesy of a sponsor invitation, the Tour rookie will be pleased she was able to put up such a strong challenge.
Reflecting on her week in Singapore before the Tour moves onto Thailand next week, Tavatanakit said: “I'm already confident with my game ever since ANA and I feel like I can compete out there even more. If anything, I don't want to get too ahead of myself, because next week, I know the course, I've played there. It's my home country. Obviously there's a little bit more pressure because everyone wants me to play well, but you know, seeing what I can do out here and try to carry it on to next week, it's going to be important.”
Also in third place is Inbee Park who was in imperious form as she challenged for a third title in Singapore but dropped shots on the 13th and 16th holes saw the lead get away from her. Closing with a birdie on the last, she signed for two-under-par 70.
“I feel like I played great this week. Just a couple of bad holes, that's it. Had a couple of bad shots, that's it. But I really enjoyed myself in Singapore. I played very well all week, so very happy with it,” Park said.
In sixth place was fellow South Korean So Yeon Ryu at 12-under par, while seventh place was shared by Carlota Ciganda of Spain, In Gee Chun of Korea, Lydia Ko of New Zealand and Gaby Lopez of Mexico.