Smiling Cinderella ready for Asia-Pacific Cup battle

Smiling Cinderella ready for Asia-Pacific Cup battle

Japan's Hinako Shibuno during the pro-am event at the Simone Asia Pacific Cup yesterday.
Japan's Hinako Shibuno during the pro-am event at the Simone Asia Pacific Cup yesterday.

Jakarta: Japan's major champion Hinako Shibuno declared yesterday she is ready to contend for the title at the inaugural US$750,000 Simone Asia Pacific Cup after rediscovering her form at the recent Women's British Open.

The 23-year-old, nicknamed the "Smiling Cinderella," put a disappointing run of results behind her by finishing third in the major event that launched her stardom three years ago.

Before that, Shibuno had missed five cuts in her last seven tournaments.

With her confidence boosted, Shibuno is eager to carry the momentum into the Pondok Indah Golf Course this week where she is set to battle with fellow major winners Lydia Ko of New Zealand and Kim Hyo-Joo and Ryu So-Yeon of South Korea in the 44-player contest.

"I think it's fair to say that that I've gotten back some of my form," said Shibuno. "I was able to put together four good rounds at the [Women's British] Open. But what's important is to stabilise my form by getting a good run of results. I'm still trying to get my mental game to click well with my performance on the course."

Shibuno, a winner of six Japan LPGA Tour titles, is also excited about competing in the Ladies Asian Tour (LAT) Series for the first time.

"I agreed with the concept of supporting the growth of women's golf in this region and decided to participate. I'm really happy to be part of this week's tournament," said Shibuno.

Shibuno will have an added motivation to do well in the 54-hole tournament, which tees off today, as she will be joining forces with her younger sister Kiriko, 19, for the first time where they look to mount a serious challenge for the team title.

Kiriko is still an amateur and plays collegiate golf in Japan.

"I'm so looking forward to it. It's going to be interesting how we're going to fare as a team. Individually, I will try my best not to lose to her!" laughed Shibuno.

Kiriko described her maiden experience of playing alongside her elder sister as "refreshing".

"It's really refreshing. When I entered the golf scene as a junior, we never get to compete together because of our age gap," said Kiriko.

"Being four years apart means we didn't get to compete in the same division."


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