Ko, Kim play down chances

Ko, Kim play down chances

Duo among favourites at 1st Asia Pacific Cup

from left  Hong Kong's Tiffany Chan, New Zealand's Lydia Ko, South Korea's Ryu So-Yeon, Indonesia's Tatiana Wijaya, Thailand's Jaravee Boochant, and South Korea's Kim Hyo-Joo pose with the trophy.
from left  Hong Kong's Tiffany Chan, New Zealand's Lydia Ko, South Korea's Ryu So-Yeon, Indonesia's Tatiana Wijaya, Thailand's Jaravee Boochant, and South Korea's Kim Hyo-Joo pose with the trophy.

Jakarta: Pre-tournament favourites Lydia Ko and Kim Hyo-Joo have played down suggestions that the inaugural Simone Asia Pacific Cup, which begins tomorrow, will be a four-horse race between them and fellow major winners Shibuno Hinako and Ryo So-Yeon.

New Zealand's Ko and South Korea's Kim, the world No.4 and No.8 respectively, are the biggest names at the US$750,000 showpiece at the Pondok Indah Golf Course in Jakarta, Indonesia, alongside Hinako from Japan and Ryo, another South Korean, who boast a combined 29 LPGA Tour victories.

But the 25-year-old Ko, winner of two major titles, said yesterday her reputation counts for nothing and that she still have to bring out her A game if she is to walk away victorious on her first visit to Indonesia on Saturday.

Ko added that she is also expecting stiff competition from the rest in the 44-player field that includes regional rising stars such as Hong Kong's Tiffany Chan, Thailand's Jaravee Boonchant and local hopeful Tatiana Wijaya.

With the tournament also featuring a national team competition where 16 nations are in the fray, Ko has no qualms it will serve as an added motivation and help bring out the best in each competitor.

"There are more known names than others. But like any other event, anyone who has played golf knows you can never say that you are going to win because you are world No.4," said Ko, who will be trying to win her second title of the season after triumphing at the Gainbridge LPGA for her 17th LPGA Tour title in January.

"All of us will have good and bad days. Those good days can be this week and our bad days could also be this week as well."

Like Ko, Kim will also be seeking her second title of the year after claiming her fifth LPGA Tour victory at the Lotte Championship in April.

But the South Korean is taking nothing for granted despite being the top-two ranked golfer this week.

"World ranking does not necessarily guarantee a good score," she said. "Every player is talented and we do not know who will win."

Playing opportunities

Hong Kong's Chan, Thailand's Jaravee and Indonesia's Wijaya are thrilled with the prospects of playing in more tournaments in Asia for many years to come, thanks to the formation of the Ladies Asian Tour (LAT) Series, which continues to take shape with the staging of the inaugural Simone Asia Pacific Cup this week.

The tournament is the second event of the LAT Series following the season-opening DB Group 36th Korea Women's Open in June.

The LAT Series, established by the Asian Golf Leaders Forum (AGLF), aims to stage seven tournaments across the Asia-Pacific region in 2023 before expanding the burgeoning circuit further into 10-tournament a season starting from 2024.

Chan, Hong Kong's sole LPGA Tour member, hailed the LAT Series as the game-changer for women's golf in Asia and believes it has the potential to flourish into a highly-competitive and respectable circuit.

Jaravee, a rookie professional who holds a card on the Epson Tour (formerly the Symetra Tour), is game for more action in Asia even though her ultimate dream is to make it to the LPGA Tour.

She is keen to contribute to the growth of women's golf in Asia.

"I went to high school and college in the US. I got my Epson Tour card this year. I've been playing most of my golf in the United States and I do not have much experience playing golf in Asia," said Jaravee.

"So, I'm very excited to see how much women's golf has grown in Asia and how much it'll be growing in the future. It has definitely opened more doors for Asian golfers to play close to home and against great players. Just excited to see more of these events."

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