Golf: Jang hopes lightning strikes twice - with fans' support

Jang Ha Na of South Korea does a victory dance after emerging as winner of the 2016 HSBC Women's Champions at the Sentosa Golf Club' Serapong Course, on March 6, 2016.
Jang Ha Na of South Korea does a victory dance after emerging as winner of the 2016 HSBC Women's Champions at the Sentosa Golf Club' Serapong Course, on March 6, 2016.PHOTO: ST FILE

Thunderstorms are forecasted over the coming days in Singapore, though the source of electricity can be traced to the presence of Jang Ha Na as she attempts to become the first golfer to retain her HSBC Women's Champions title.

The bubbly South Korean has established herself as a fan favourite thanks to her exuberant personality and penchant for memorable victorious celebrations on Sundays.

Last year, she performed a Beyonce-inspired dance after emerging as the winner at Sentosa Golf Club.

Feeding off that positive energy from the crowd has been key to her success, the world No. 6 said yesterday, pointing to her win at last month's ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open.

Five beer-laden supporters followed her at the Royal Adelaide Golf Club and she responded to their loud cheering with three birdies and an eagle in her final six holes to finish three shots ahead of Nanna Madsen of Denmark.

It was the 24-year-old's fourth LPGA Tour title since the start of last year, a haul that equals world No. 1 Lydia Ko's. Only 2016 Player of the Year Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand won more tournaments (five) over that period.

  • Number of LPGA titles South Korean Jang Ha Na has won since the start of last year. One of those victories came at the HSBC Women's Champions. She is aiming to become the first golfer to retain that crown.

Jang, sporting blonde highlights in her hair, said: "It was really fun for me and the fans. I like that excitement. It really encourages me."

Last season was a breakout campaign for her, yet it was also a period of suffering. Her father had accidentally dropped a heavy travel bag down an escalator at Changi Airport, which hit and injured golfer Chun In Gee and caused her to withdraw from last year's HSBC edition.

Jang was heavily criticised on social media and struggled with the backlash for months. She declined to discuss her relationship with compatriot Chun but both seem to have moved on from the incident.

Chun, ranked third in the world with two Major titles to her name at the age of 22, told The Straits Times yesterday: "I had five weeks of rest during the off-season. I am happy to be back, went to the United States to start training again last month. I feel healthy now and ready to go."

Jang was equally raring to continue her fine start to the year. She arrived here after finished tied-32nd at last week's Honda LPGA Thailand and has targeted five wins in 2017. She noted the winter training has helped sharpen her short-game.

She led the Tour with 63 sub-par rounds (out of 83 overall) last year, a tally that could have been even higher given she ranked 92nd in putting average (30.08 putts per round) and 79th in sand saves (43.84 per cent).

She said: "My short game is now really good compared to last year after practice, (especially) when it's windy. The wind was strong in Australia and it feels the same here...

"It's really good coming back to Singapore. I have good memories here."

Jonathan Wong

•Additional reporting by Alvin Chia

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2017, with the headline 'Jang hopes lightning strikes twice - with fans' support'. Print Edition | Subscribe