Kim Hyo-joo readies defense; Yuka Saso gets ‘warmed up’ | Inquirer Sports

Kim Hyo-joo readies defense; Yuka Saso gets ‘warmed up’

/ 04:15 AM March 02, 2022

Yuka Saso is back home to get heated up for two LPGA events. —FRANCIS T. J. OCHOA


Yuka Saso is back home to get heated up for two LPGA events. —FRANCIS T. J. OCHOA

SINGAPORE—South Korea’s Kim Hyo-joo struck an upbeat tone on Tuesday as she gears up to defend her HSBC Women’s World Championship title in Singapore in the face of stiff competition.

The 26-year-old staged a late fightback by overcoming a five-shot deficit to triumph in last year’s tournament by one shot, snapping a five-year winless drought.

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The event at the Sentosa Golf Club, from Thursday to Sunday, will be her first tournament since November, when she finished tied 53rd in the CME Group Tour Championship.

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But she sounded confident going into the competition.

“I practiced on the front nine yesterday and the course conditions are great, similar to last year. I feel I’m ready to play well this week,” she told a press conference.

“Before my victory last year, I was not feeling confident. But after winning the tournament, I could feel that my confidence was returning. I’m so happy to be back at this golf course, and I want to do well again.”

Also in the mix of favorites is Yuka Saso, the reigning Women’s US Open champion who flew back home to the Philippines to reunite with her family for the first time since the pandemic and literally get warmed up for the two Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) stops here. After Singapore, the tour moves to Thailand for another tournament.

“I think there’s a little bit of an advantage getting ready here because of the weather, which is the same in Singapore and Thailand,” said Saso, who is of Filipino and Japanese lineage, during a press conference in Manila recently.

“It’s a little bit warm there compared to the cold weather in the US,” said the 20-year-old ace, who is currently based in Houston.

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Another favorite is New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, who is chasing her first win at the Singapore tournament after coming close on several occasions, including a second-place finish in 2015.

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The former world No.1 is on good form, having won her 17th LPGA title at Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio in January.

“I play my best golf when I’m enjoying my time out there and being relaxed. Keeping that kind of mindset and just focusing on that one shot in front of me allows me to play the best golf I can,” said Ko. —AFP

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