Golf: Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn resume battle for No. 1 spot at HSBC Women's Champions

World No. 1 Lydia Ko attends a press conference ahead of the HSBC Women's Champions golf tournament at the Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore on March 1, 2017.
World No. 1 Lydia Ko attends a press conference ahead of the HSBC Women's Champions golf tournament at the Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore on March 1, 2017.PHOTO: AFP
World No. 1 Lydia Ko at a photo shoot at Fairmont Singapore.
World No. 1 Lydia Ko at a photo shoot at Fairmont Singapore.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Defending champion Ha Na Jang at a photo shoot at Fairmont Singapore.
Defending champion Ha Na Jang at a photo shoot at Fairmont Singapore.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Golfer Lexi Thompson at a photo shoot at Fairmont Singapore.
Golfer Lexi Thompson at a photo shoot at Fairmont Singapore.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Golfer Paula Creamer at a photo shoot at Fairmont Singapore.
Golfer Paula Creamer at a photo shoot at Fairmont Singapore.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Golfer Michelle Wie at a photo shoot at Fairmont Singapore.
Golfer Michelle Wie at a photo shoot at Fairmont Singapore.

SINGAPORE - World No. 1 Lydia Ko hopes a change of scenery at the HSBC Women's Champions will prove to be a blessing for her as she seeks her first win at the US$1.5 million (S$2.11 million) tournament.

The 19-year-old has finished 15th, second, tied-15th in her three previous trips to the Sentosa Golf Club, when the elite 63-women invitational competition was held at the Serapong Course.

This year's tournament, which is the 10th edition of the HSBC event, will be held at the recently-renovated New Tanjong Course and Ko, who has held the No. 1 spot for 90 weeks, is eyeing her 15th LPGA Tour title.

She said on Wednesday (March 1): "I had a good time with my Pro-Am group this morning. I think we got these butterfly pins with every birdie we make. I got four butterflies and I was excited about that."

The wide open fairways at the par-72, 6,108m lay-out are a refreshing change from the tight and narrow set-up at the adjacent Serapong.

Ko said: "It's really hard to say the winning score in any tournament, especially because you don't exactly know what the weather is going to be like. With the Tanjong golf course, there's not that many holes where it can block the wind.

"So you know that it could get windy here, and if it does blow, the course is going to play completely different. That is also with the rain. If the course plays softer, obviously it will play much longer, too...

"I think you can go a little bit longer and a little bit more aggressive. I think those are the bigger differences with the tee shots."

Second-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn, who managed a Tour-leading five wins last season and has been chipping away at Ko's world ranking lead, cut a relaxed figure and said she was pleased with her start to the 2017 campaign.

The 21-year-old Thai finished tied-3rd and tied-8th at last month's ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open and Honda LPGA Thailand respectively.

She said: "I'm really confident in my game. I'm not going to be confident in what the outcome is going to be. I'm just going to focus on commitment. That's the most important thing for me...

"To me it's no pressure because I'm not going to compare myself this year and last year. So I have my goal that I'm going to work on my commitment and I want to have fun and be happy on the course."

The world-class field includes 19 of the top 20 players, including world No. 3 Chun In Gee, defending HSBC champion Jang Ha Na (No. 6) and fifth-ranked Lexi Thompson of the United States.

Singapore will be represented by local pro Amanda Tan. The 18-year-old won last month's local qualifying tournament and will be making her second appearance after competing in the 2014 edition.