Jin Young back on happy Singapore hunting ground eyeing world hat-trick

SINGAPORE: Defending champion Ko Jin Young is aiming for an unprecedented "three-peat" when the HSBC Women's World Championship tees off in Singapore tomorrow.

After finishing tied for 20th at the LPGA Thailand event on Sunday, Jin Young returns to her happy hunting ground hoping to become the first player to win three consecutive titles at the tournament dubbed "Asia's major."

The world No. 6 from South Korea won both the 2022 and 2023 editions by just two shots and expects another closely fought contest as she aims for a 16th LPGA Tour title.

"There are a lot of good players in the field and everyone is looking to win this tournament, including myself," the 28-year-old Jin Young told reporters at Sentosa Golf Club.

"I cannot control how they play but the only thing I can do is to try my best and see what happens from there.

"I played the back nine today, and there has been a little bit of changes in the pin positions from last year. The bunkers also seem a little bigger.

"It's not easy to play this golf course but if I can hit a lot of fairways, and greens and make many birdies like last year, I'll be okay," said the former world No. 1.

Having struggled with wrist injuries in recent seasons, Jin Young is pleased to be back and healthy as defends her title against an elite field that features 15 of the world's top 20, including world No. 1 Lilia Vu from the United States.

"I had a lot of injuries the last three years. But I feel it's getting better in the last two years," she said.

"I'm just very happy that I'm injury-free now and able to play golf."

In-form Patty Tavatanakit is hoping to overcome fatigue as she chases her own treble of victories after winning back-to-back titles in Saudi Arabia and Thailand in the past fortnight.

"I'm tired. There has been a lot of travelling and golf. But I'm really excited to be back in Singapore to tee it up in front of the Singapore fans this weekend," said the 24-year-old Thai.

"I feel like everything is coming together and I have been performing really well," she added.

"I've been working very hard on making everything a little bit sharper off the tee, approach and around the greens."

The US LPGA Tour completes a three-tournament Asian swing in China next week at the Blue Bay tournament on Hainan Island. — AFP

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