MAJOR WINNER PATTY TAVATANAKIT, DEFENDING CHAMPION PARK JI-YOUNG TO HEADLINE HANA FINANCIAL GROUP SINGAPORE WOMEN’S OPEN

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SINGAPORE, 21 FEBRUARY 2024 – Major winner Patty Tavatanakit will headline the March 7-10 Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open (HFGSWO) alongside defending champion Park Ji-young and 2023 Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) money list topper Lee Ye-won, organisers announced on Wednesday (Feb 21).

Some of South Korea’s top female golfers are also set to feature at Tanah Merah Country Club’s Tampines course along with a slew of players from Australia, New Zealand, China and Japan. Malaysian Ashley Lau, who recently stunned former world No. 1 Shin Ji-yai to win her first pro title at the 2024 Vic Open, will also compete in Singapore alongside Thai rising stars Jaravee Boonchant and Natthakritta Vongtaveelap.

Top Singapore professionals Amanda Tan and Koh Sock Hwee had earlier confirmed their attendance at the national Open, alongside elite national amateur players Aloysa Atienza, Jaymie Ng, Chen Xingtong and Jillian Kuk.

Patty, the 2021 LPGA Rookie of the Year, will be looking to build on her momentum and clinch her first KLPGA Tour title in Singapore after a dominant performance saw her triumph at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International on Feb 18. Her victory at the Riyadh Golf Club is her maiden title on the Ladies European Tour and her first win since she won the 2021 ANA Inspiration in her breakout rookie year on the Ladies Professional Golf Association.  

She said: “I am very excited to be competing in my first Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open. I have good memories from competing in Singapore and I hope I can create more good memories by hopefully winning for the first time there. It is thanks to sponsors like the Hana Financial Group that I’m able to pursue my passion and play golf professionally and I’m very grateful for the support they have given me. It was an emotional moment when I won the Aramco Saudi Ladies International; it’s been a long time since I’ve played this well and I’ve worked really hard to get here and overcome that. I’ve grown and learnt so much over the past couple of years and I’m looking forward to carrying that energy and mindset with me to Singapore. It will be a tough three weeks of competition, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m just going to go out there and have fun playing while making sure I recover well so that I can carry on this momentum for the rest of the season.”

Meanwhile, world No. 56 Park will be looking to start the year in style once more by winning her eighth KLPGA title. In the inaugural HFGSWO in December 2022 – which also served as the Tour’s season-opener, she clinched her fifth win on the KLPGA Tour as heavy rain forced the cancellation of the third and final round.

Her stellar performance in the opening 36 holes, shooting rounds of 66 and 67 to reach 11-under-par 133, sealed her victory by a narrow margin, edging out the trio of Hong Jung-min, Lee So-young, and Park Hyun-kyung by just one shot.

This triumph set the stage for Park’s impressive run later in the season, as she added two more victories at the EVERCOLLAGEN The Sienna Queens Crown and KB Financial Group STAR Championship.

She said: “I feel a little nervous and excited for HFGSWO because it’s my first title defence in 2024, but I’ll do my best and prepare diligently. Frankly, I don’t feel much pressure, I just want to show my best performance again like last time. I remember that my iron shots and putts were very good last year, so I’m going to try to recall that feeling this year. Winning the tournament in 2022 was a special moment for me and it gave me a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season. I hope I will be able to repeat that success this time.”

Park is keenly aware of the formidable challenge posed by her competitors as she prepares to defend her title, with 16 of the top 20 finishers from last season’s points standings poised to bring their A-game to the new season’s battleground away from home.

Besides Patty and reigning KLPGA Player of the Year Lee, Park will also have to contend with heavyweights including 2023 KLPGA Rookie of the Year Kim Min-byeol and 2022 KLPGA Player of the Year Park Min-ji.

World No. 32 Lee is determined to continue her stellar performance from the exceptional 2023 season, in which she clinched three victories and secured four runner-up finishes. Additionally, she boasted an impressive record of 14 top-10 finishes in the 29 tournaments in which she participated.

After proving herself on home turf, Lee is eager to make her mark with her first victory abroad. She said: “When I participated in the HFGSWO in 2022, I felt like the course suits me well so I’m excited to compete in the tournament again. It was difficult for me to read the green, because the slope and undulation of the green were not familiar, but I think I’ll be able to play aggressively this year due to experience of 2022. I also had good memories having delicious food in Singapore and hope to try them again. I can’t name one specific dish, but I loved the food here. Last season was exceptional; I’m still proud of it and I’m also happy that I’ve been continuing to grow. I hope I can have another great year. My goal is to play my games throughout the year steadily and have the most wins at the end of the year.”

The 1 billion Won (S$1.1 million) HFGSWO is jointly sanctioned by the Singapore Golf Association (SGA) and Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) and will form a part of the Ladies Asian Tour Series.

Tickets to the HFGSWO will be available on Ticketmaster soon. Updates on the event are available at https://swo.sga.org.sg and on Facebook and Instagram.

Credit: SGA

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