Golf: Fearless Jang hits her target

Jang Ha Na of South Korea does a victory dance after her final putt allowed her to emerge as winner of the HSBC Women's Champions by four shots at the Sentosa Golf Club.
Jang Ha Na of South Korea does a victory dance after her final putt allowed her to emerge as winner of the HSBC Women's Champions by four shots at the Sentosa Golf Club.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Pornanong Phatlum.
Pornanong Phatlum.

Goal of two titles this season now achieved, she raises her aim to four

As they strolled up to the first tee yesterday morning, it was hard to tell who was ahead in the fashion stakes with Jang Ha Na and Pornanong Phatlum both wearing bright tops and multi-coloured skirts.

After 18 holes, there was no doubting who the undisputed winner was inside the ropes as Jang captured the US$1.5 million (S$2.11 million) HSBC Women's Champions.

The South Korean closed with a stunning seven-under 65 for a 269 total, the lowest winning score since the tournament moved to Sentosa Golf Club in 2013. She finished four shots clear of Pornanong (68), whose 273 was four better than Amy Yang (71) in third.

World No. 1 Lydia Ko (69) was tied 15th on 281 while defending champion and second-ranked Park In Bee (69) was tied 30th on 285.

Jang, 23, celebrated with a Beyonce-inspired dance after her six-foot eagle putt dropped into the 18th hole. She high-fived spectators during her lap of honour around the massive green.


    (Kor unless stated):

    269 Jang Ha Na 70 66 68 65

    273 Pornanong Phatlum (Tha) 70 67 68 68

    277 Amy Yang 71 67 68 71

    278 Candie Kung (Tpe) 67 72 70 69, Ariya Jutanugarn (Tha) 73 69 66 70, Chella Choi 70 70 68 70, Choi Na Yeon 70 70 68 70, Lee Mi Rim 69 67 70 72

    279 Gerina Piller (USA) 70 68 73 68, Brooke Henderson (Can) 70 71 67 71, Stacy Lewis (USA) 71 69 68 71, Suzann Pettersen (Nor) 68 69 71 71

    280 Sandra Gal (Ger) 70 74 69 67, Feng Shanshan (Chn) 69 69 72 70

    281 Mika Miyazato (Jpn) 68 70 75 68, Lydia Ko (Nzl) 71 74 67 69, Kim Hyo Joo 70 72 69 70, Paula Creamer (USA) 72 67 71 71

    282 Karrie Webb (Aus) 72 72 73 65, Lexi Thompson (USA) 71 72 70 69, Morgan Pressel (USA) 71 69 73 69, Cristie Kerr (USA) 70 75 67 70, Jessica Korda (USA) 71 69 72 70.


    283 Minjee Lee (Aus) 67 73 69 74

    284 Haru Nomura (Jpn) 71 68 71 74

    285 Park In Bee 68 73 75 69

    298 Koh Sock Hwee (Sin) 76 73 74 75

    300 Tseng Ya-ni (Tpe) 76 77 73 74

A flair for the dramatic is unsurprising, given Jang's fearless nature. This was her second LPGA title in as many months and she is projected to jump five spots to world No. 5 in the latest rankings.

When asked if she might be intimidated by the pressure of life at the top, she grinned and said in halting English: "Never. Everything's no afraid. Not people, not (learning) words, nothing. Just enjoy my life, playing golf every week."

There was plenty to admire about her game. She had just three bogeys in 72 holes, missed only nine fairways and made three eagles - no one else had more than one - last week at Serapong.

Pornanong, 26, was seeking to become Thailand's first LPGA winner and despite her disappointment at a fourth career runner-up finish, praised her close friend Jang.

She said: "Ha Na was so mentally strong today. She's tough to beat."

Two moments stood out. On the 11th, Jang had a bogey - dropping a shot for the first time in 50 holes - but she responded with three straight birdies. On the 16th, she watched Pornanong's 30-foot birdie putt disappear into the cup, waited for the cheers to die down and saved par with a tricky eight-footer.

Jang one-putted six of her final eight holes while her back-nine score of 32 was the lowest among all 62 players. She pocketed US$225,000 for her win, taking her total earnings from five events this season to just over US$560,000.

Last year, the rookie finished second four times but was winless from 23 starts. She said: "Maybe last year thinking too much, worried about other Korean players. Now, more comfortable. Target in 2016 was two wins but right now, I'm there, so going to change my target, two more wins."

Singapore's Koh Sock Hwee, 26, also achieved her goal of ending the Republic's unwanted record of finishing last at all eight previous HSBC events.

She shot 75 for a 298 total and was tied 59th. She earned US$3,987 in her first event as a full-time professional.

This year's ninth staging drew 27,721 fans, less than the record turnout of 29,038 last year.

The next edition is likely to be held across the road at the new Tanjong Course, currently undergoing a $32 million redevelopment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 07, 2016, with the headline 'Fearless Jang hits her target'. Print Edition | Subscribe