Thais brace for showdown against 15 of world's best

Thais brace for showdown against 15 of world's best

Five Thai golfers -- Patty Tavatanakit, Chanettee Wannasaen, Ariya Jutanugarn, Jasmine Suwannapura and Pajaree Anannarukarn -- will join an elite field at the US$1.8 million HSBC Women's World Championship in Singapore starting today.

The Thai contingent will measure themselves against 15 of the top 20-ranked players in the world at the tournament dubbed "Asia's major" at Sentosa Golf Club.

While 27th-ranked Patty is pursuing her third consecutive victory after winning back-to-back titles in Saudi Arabia and Thailand in the past fortnight, former world No.1 Ko Jin-Young of South Korea is aiming for an unprecedented hat-trick of Singapore titles, having won in 2022 and 2023.

"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 OK," said Ko, who is aiming for her 16th LPGA Tour title this week.

The 45th-ranked Ariya, who finished tied 14th last year, said she's happy to be back in Singapore.

"I'm glad to be back playing this tournament again," said Ariya. "The course is not much different from last year. Each hole has its challenge. The greens are firmer and there's a bunker on the left side of the 18th fairway which makes it tougher.

"My form is getting better since last week in Thailand. I've made a lot of adjustments but there's still a lot of work to be done."

American world No.1 Lilia Vu, who finished in a share of seventh place in her title defence last week in Thailand, is competing in the tournament for the second time.

Vu tees off today at the top of the rankings having enjoyed a breakout year when she won four LPGA tournaments, including two majors.

"I keep saying the reason I got to this point was because I try my best to win each tournament I play," said Vu, who is of Vietnamese heritage.

"I'm still learning to manage [pressure] as it's definitely a new thing for me."

Vu won her maiden tour event at the Honda LPGA Thailand last year and finished five shots behind winner Patty last weekend.

She showed her determination to bounce back after slumping nine shots off the pace with a first-round 73, featuring a torrid back nine containing five bogeys.

Also in the field at the non-cut event this week is third-ranked Celine Boutier, fourth-ranked Yin Ruoning Yin and fifth-ranked Minjee Lee.

The tournament is the second stop of the US LPGA Tour's Asian swing which will conclude in China next week at the Blue Bay tournament on Hainan Island.

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