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Best KLPGA golfer awaits match against LPGA rookie

Posted December. 09, 2022 07:51,   

Updated December. 09, 2022 07:51


The top-ranking KLPGA player is gearing up for competition against the LPGA’s rookie star. South Korean golfer Park Min-ji, the top money earner with the most total wins on the KLPGA Tour last season, will compete head-to-head against Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand, the awardee of the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year in the 2022 season. The two women will jointly play in the first and second rounds in the Hana Financial Group Singapore Women's Open, the opening game of the 2023 KLPGA Tour scheduled at the Tampines Course, Tanah Merah Country Club in Singapore for three days starting from Friday.

Just four weeks after winning the season-ending SK Shieldus & SK Telecom Championship 2022, Park will join a competition. "I am feeling both excited and nervous about the upcoming match. I am not feeling completely okay yet due to a busy schedule,” she said, "I will keep encouraging myself to do my best.” Ranking No. 14 in global rankings, she is the fourth highest-ranking South Korean female golfer, following No. 5 Ko Jin-young, No. 8 Chun In-gee, and No. 9 Kim Hyo-joo playing in the LPGA Tour. Gaining six wins for two consecutive years, Park Min-ji is sure she is at her peak, considering major competitions in the next year's LPGA Tour. After the match in Singapore, she plans to leave for the United States for off-season training to become familiar with the lawn grass. In this light, competing against Thitikul with two wins in the 2022 LPGA Tour will allow Park to check out at which level she stands.

Sponsored by Hana Financial Group, the world's No. 3 Thitikul will be invited to the competition in Singapore. The Thai player topped the global rankings for two weeks in early November. “Playing in Singapore reminds me of my motherland as both countries have a lot in common including weather conditions,” she said. “I love Singapore. I hope to perform seamlessly and ensure good results.”

Choi Hye-jin, who recorded the second-highest points for the LPGA Rookie race after Thitikul, will compete against the two players. She joined a year ago in the season-ending competition of the KLPGA Tour. JLPGA golfer Shin Ji-ae will return to the KLPGA Tour. Her latest KLPGA match was the Dayouwinia MBN Ladies Open in August 2020. In her memories, Tanah Merah Country Club has a special place because it is the club where she won the HSBC Women's World Championship on the LPGA Tour in March 2009.

Co-organized by the KLPGA and the Singapore Golf Association, the Hana Financial Group Singapore Women's Open, although founded in 2020, will be first held this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The total prize money amounts to 1.1 million Singapore dollars or 1.07 billion won, and the winner will gain 198,000 Singapore dollars or 190 million won. A total of 102 players from various countries, such as South Korea, the United States, and Japan, have enrolled in the competition.

Hong-Gu Kang windup@donga.com