Golf: Koh takes big leap towards 3rd HSBC spot

Koh Sock Hwee putting on day one of the HSBC Women's Champions local qualifier at the Sentosa Golf Club. She has a four-shot lead over the 11-woman field. She previously played in the main event in 2012 and last year.
Koh Sock Hwee putting on day one of the HSBC Women's Champions local qualifier at the Sentosa Golf Club. She has a four-shot lead over the 11-woman field. She previously played in the main event in 2012 and last year.PHOTO: HSBC WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS 2016

A record third appearance at the HSBC Women's Champions beckons for golfer Koh Sock Hwee, after she established a four-shot lead heading into today's final round of the local qualifying tournament.

Despite two bogeys in her final four holes, the 26-year-old carded a two-over 74 yesterday at the Sentosa Golf Club's (SGC) Serapong Course.

Her closest challenger in the 11-woman field is Amanda Tan, 16, who triumphed at the 2014 edition of the qualifier. The teenager shot 78 and was the only other player besides Koh to post a sub-80 score.

Said Koh: "I was very relaxed and felt no pressure today. I am happy with my round and hope this is what I can do tomorrow too.

"I tend to give myself a lot of pressure so the most important thing for me is to focus on my own game, stick to the game plan and just enjoy myself.

"This is the reason why we are all playing this week - to try and get that spot, and it feels good to be in this position right now."

The 2015 SEA Games individual bronze medallist played in the main event in 2012 and last year. Compatriots Joey Poh (2009, 2010) and Christabel Goh (2011, 2013) are the only local golfers with multiple appearances at the LPGA Tour event.

This year's tournament will again see an elite 63-woman field and will feature the likes of world No. 1 Lydia Ko and defending champion and second-ranked Park In Bee.

The March 3-6 event will also include an outdoor concert at the SGC driving range by British pop group Take That after the third round on Saturday. The prize money for the ninth edition of the Women's Champions has been increased to US$1.5 million (S$2.15 million), up from US$1.4 million for the previous five years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2016, with the headline 'Koh takes big leap towards 3rd HSBC spot'. Print Edition | Subscribe