2016 HSBC Women’s Champions

Golf: Top contenders below par

South Korean Jang Ha Na weighs up a putt during the second round of the HSBC Women's Champions yesterday. She currently holds the lead at the Sentosa Golf Club with her compatriot Lee Mi Rim.
South Korean Jang Ha Na weighs up a putt during the second round of the HSBC Women's Champions yesterday. She currently holds the lead at the Sentosa Golf Club with her compatriot Lee Mi Rim.ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN

World's top 3 off the pace as South Korean pair share second-round lead at Serapong

The world's top three female golfers managed six birdies, seven bogeys and a double bogey between them yesterday as the Sentosa Golf Club's Serapong Course paid little heed to reputation.

While Lydia Ko, Park In Bee and Lexi Thompson all failed to break par, the blemish-free scorecards of Jang Ha Na and Lee Mi Rim were dotted only with red numbers as the South Korean pair seized the second-round lead at the HSBC Women's Champions.

Lee fired five birdies for a five-under 67 while Jang went one better with a 66 as both women set the pace with a 136 total.

 

Thai Pornanong Phatlum (67) and Norway's Suzann Pettersen (69) were a stroke back at the US$1.5 million (S$2.11 million) tournament. Defending champion and second-ranked Park (73) was tied 20th on 141 while Thompson (72) was joint 31st. World No. 1 Ko (74) was tied 41st and nine strokes off the lead.

There were no secrets to getting to the top, grinned Lee, 25, whose last LPGA Tour win was the Reignwood LPGA Classic in October 2014.

The South Korean, who missed one fairway and needed just 27 putts, said: "I just try to hit it straight, straight, straight and then make, make, make (birdies)."

  • SELECTED SCORES

  • Second round, South Korean unless stated: 136 Jang Ha Na 70 66, Lee Mi Rim 69 67 137 Pornanong Phatlum (Tha) 70 67, Suzann Pettersen (Nor) 68 69 138 Amy Yang 71 67, Gerina Piller (USA) 70 68, Ahn Sun Ju 69 69, Feng Shanshan (Chn) 69 69 139 Paula Creamer (USA) 72 67, Haru Nomura (Jpn) 71 68, Candie Kung (Tpe) 67 72 140 Kim Sei Young 73 67, Jessica Korda (USA) 71 69, Stacy Lewis (USA) 71 69, Morgan Pressel (USA) 71 69, Choi Na Yeon 70 70, Chella Choi 70 70, Lee-Anne Pace (RSA) 68 72, Minjee Lee (Aus) 67 73. Selected: 141 Park In Bee 68 73 143 Lexi Thompson (USA) 71 72 145 Lydia Ko (Nzl) 71 74

    EVENT DETAILS

    WHEN: Till tomorrow

    WHERE: Sentosa Golf Club,

    Serapong Course

    PRIZE MONEY: US$1.5 million (S$2.11 million)

    WHO: An elite 63-woman field with 18 of the world's top 20 golfers.

    SELECTED TEE-OFF TIMES: 1st hole (USA unless stated) 8.25am: Lexi Thompson 8.37am: Angela Stanford 9.01am: Brooke Henderson (Can), Park In Bee (Kor) 9.13am: Minjee Lee (Aus) 9.25am: Choi Na Yeon (Kor) 9.37am: Jessica Korda, Morgan Pressel, Stacy Lewis 9.49am: Kim Sei Young (Kor), Candie Kung (Tpe) 10.01am: Feng Shanshan (Chn), Paula Creamer 10.13am: Amy Yang (Kor), Suzann Pettersen (Nor), Gerina Piller 10.25am: Pornanong Phatlum (Tha), Jang Ha Na (Kor), Lee Mi Rim (Kor) 10th hole 8.25am: Karrie Webb (Aus) 9.01am: Lydia Ko (Nzl), Cristie Kerr 9.13am: Michelle Wie 9.37am: Koh Sock Hwee (Sin), Brittany Lincicome

    10.01am: Ai Miyazato (Jpn)

    10.13am: Tseng Ya-ni (Tpe)

    TICKETS: Daily from $30, season pass is $60. On sale through Sistic. Price does not include entry to the island or booking fees. Free entry for those aged 16 and below. Take That concert tickets tonight sold separately, from $138.

    GETTING THERE: Free shuttle service between HarbourFront bus interchange and Sentosa Golf Club (public entrance) every 15 minutes, from 7am to 5.40pm. Event details

Compatriot Jang's 50-foot eagle putt on the 483-yard, par-five seventh was the highlight of her round and continued a whirlwind start to 2016 for the world No. 10.

At January's Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, she converted an even longer effort from 218 yards with her three-wood. It was the Tour's first hole-in-one on a par-four. Last month, Jang, 23, won the Coates Golf Championship for her maiden Tour title and celebrated by swinging her putter theatrically before tucking it under her arm like a nunchaku.

She is already working on a new dance move to perform, should victory No. 2 come tomorrow.

"It's top secret," giggled the bubbly Seoul native, who draws anime characters on her golf balls.

Jang finished 14th in the 2014 edition and was excited at the prospect of topping that. She said: "I tell myself, 'Don't think too much, just be patient, there's a lot of birdies. Just concentrate for two more days, you can do it.'"

Self-belief had been hard to find for Pettersen, a former world No. 2. Her Manulife LPGA Classic victory last June ended a two-year winless sequence. A third of her 15 Tour titles have come in Asia but frustratingly, none in Singapore, where the 34-year-old has played in all eight editions of the HSBC event.

The world No. 13 said: "It's still on my bucket list to win so I have (a) job to do in the next two days."

The weekend task for American Gerina Piller, who shot 68 and is tied fifth two strokes back on 138, is a sizeable one. This is her 149th career start since turning pro in 2007 and she has yet to lift a trophy.

Two runner-up finishes last season, statistically her best year on tour, have stirred the 30-year-old.

She said: "I feel like I'm a better player than I was last year, more confident and just all around better."

Signs of progress were everywhere for Singaporean Koh Sock Hwee, tied 53rd on 149. Her 73 was a three-stroke improvement from Thursday's two-birdie round. She said: "I made five birdies today, which I am very happy about."

HSBC WOMEN'S CHAMPIONS
Day 3: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209 and MediaCorp okto, 11.30am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2016, with the headline 'TOP CONTENDERS BELOW PAR'. Print Edition | Subscribe