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Golf: Red-hot Ko aims to keep ‘cool’ for hat-trick quest in Singapore

Lydia Ko, 17, is bidding for a third win in three weeks as she competes in the HSBC Women’s Champions. Photo: HSBC Getty Images.

Lydia Ko will play with Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson for the first two rounds of this week’s HSBC Women’s Champions. Photo: HSBC Getty Images.

March 4, 2015: Lydia Ko said combating Singapore’s fierce heat would be a priority as the teenage World No. 1 bids for a third win in three weeks when she competes in the eighth HSBC Women’s Champions, which tees off at Sentosa Golf Club on Thursday.

 

Ko, 17, won her first LPGA title of the year at the Women’s Australian Open before winning the New Zealand Open on the Ladies European Tour last week.

 

Ko finished 15th on her HSBC Women’s Champions debut last year, but the New Zealander’s run to the top of the Rolex Rankings and back-to-back wins have made her the hot favourite in the 63-strong field.

 

“I have had such a great last two weeks, so obviously there’s an expectation. You’re World No. 1 and a lot of people think you should win every week because you’re there, but that’s really not the case,” Ko said on a typically hot Singapore day, with temperatures reaching 33 degrees Celsius.

 

“Hopefully I’m going to keep myself cool. I think that’s a big thing here. You can play good golf and then the heat gets to you and you start making a couple of mistakes. I think I’m going to keep myself cool and try and have some fun. I know that there are some birdie opportunities, but there are some really tough holes out there, so everything balances out.”

 

Park In-bee, World No. 1 until being deposed by Ko in early February, agreed that the Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong layout offered potential for scoring – and punishment – in the 72-hole, no-cut tournament

 

“If you hit good tee-shots, you can make birdies, but if you don’t hit good tee-shots, you can make big numbers there. I would be happy with pars here, except for the par-fives, where you definitely have a chance for a birdie, but then the other holes are quite tough,” said Park, the World No. 2 and a five-time major winner.

 

“I think that’s why this golf course is so much fun. You can play a round in so many ways. You can do so many things on this golf course and I think it’s one of the toughest golf courses we play. It’s in great condition. I played Monday and it was a little bit slower, the greens, but I played today and it was quick, so I think it’s in good shape.”

 

Crowd favourite Michelle Wie enjoyed a boost to her preparations when the 6-foot 1-inch American led her team to victory in Tuesday’s pro-am, as players took the opportunity to acclimatise to Singapore’s heat and humidity, and further familiarise themselves with the Serapong.

 

Tseng Yani gave a putting lesson to local schoolchildren in the HSBC Interactive Village.

Tseng Yani gave a putting lesson to local schoolchildren in the HSBC Interactive Village.

Off the course, Taiwanese legend Tseng Yani and Chinese teenager Jennifer Yan Jing hosted a group of children from local schools at the HSBC Interactive Village.

 

Tseng, who gave a putting display on a 75-foot mat replicating the length of Paula Creamer’s playoff-winning putt last year, admitted she was regaining her confidence, especially after the former No. 1 finished runner-up at the Honda LPGA Thailand last week.

 

“I’m excited for this year. I’ve got a new trainer and coach so I think my body, mind and swing are kind of working together right now,” said Tseng, the five-time major winner who won the last of her 15 LPGA titles in 2012 before sliding down the rankings.

 

“The last few years I’ve been really struggling, but these two years I feel like I’m back enjoying golf again. I’m very happy. I don’t really get down on myself as much and I don’t give myself as much pressure, too. I’m pleased to be here again and play with the best.”

 

Yan, a Singapore resident, took on the HSBC ultimate bunker challenge in a replica of one of the most infamous hazards in the world of golf – the 17th Road Hole bunker on the Old Course at St Andrews. With The Open returning to the ‘Home of Golf’ this year, spectators will have their chance to try their hand at one of golf’s most iconic greenside bunkers.

 

Source: HSBC Women’s Champions (www.hsbcgolf.com/womens); Editing by SportAsia

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