Eugene YS Han picks out five golfers to look out for among the star-studded line-up at this year’s HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.
With the competition set to heat up at the Tanah Merah Country Club, expect world-class golf on display with world number one Lorena Ochoa leading the way. She will have much to fend off this current crop of young LPGA stars aiming to dethrone the Mexican. Here’s a look at the best five.
Ai Miyazato is going into the HSBC Women’s Champions in great form after she came from behind to win LPGA’s season-opening Honda PTT LPGA Thailand on Sunday. Miyazato, who is sometimes regarded as the real darling of the Japanese media, is looking to make a huge splash in 2010 after closing the previous year on a high. After securing her LPGA card in 2006, the 24-year-old finally got her first LPGA Tour win at the 2009 Evian Masters in July after defeating Sophie Gustafson in a playoff. A winner of 17 Japanese LPGA titles, Miyazato had long been earmarked as a potential major winner. Perhaps 2010 could bring her some major cheer.
Heralded as the next American golfing superstar, 23-year-old Amanda Blumenherst earned the chance to play at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore after receiving one of the sponsor’s invites. Blumenherst is a multi-award winning golfer during her amateur days. Before turning professional in June 2009, the Arizona native won the 2008 US Women’s Amateur Championship and was also awarded National Player of the Year at Duke University three times. Blumenherst also took part in professional tournaments as an amateur in five LPGA events, including the US Women’s Open in 2006 and 2007 where she finished tied for 10th and 50th, respectively.
Another prodigious young talent from South Korea, M.J. Hur has been tipped to follow in the footsteps of Park Se Ri and Jiyai Shin for golf superstardom. The 20-year-old notched her first LPGA Tour title when she saw off Suzann Pettersen and Michele Redman to win the 2009 Safeway Classic. Hur seems to be ready to start 2010 with a bang. She hit six-under-par 66 to share the first-round lead with former champion Suzann Pettersen at the Honda-PTT LPGA Thailand last week. She eventually faded and ended up tied for 13th place on the final day. Nevertheless, Hur is still another exciting talent to watch out for at the HSBC Women’s Champions.
Shin is often talked about as the best of the current crop of talented South Korean golfers taking part in the LPGA. She has been widely tipped to be the most likely golfer to usurp the world number one title from Lorena Ochoa. The 21-year-old burst into the LPGA stratosphere in 2007 by playing in three of the four majors and making a name of herself in those tournaments. It took just one year for Shin to win her first major when she clinched the 2008 Women’s British Open by three strokes. In 2009, she went on to win the LPGA Rookie of the Year as well topping the LPGA Money list. And did we mention, she is the reigning Queen of the HSBC Women’s Champion this year?
And Michelle Wie
Making her first appearance in the city state of Singapore, Michelle Wie is perhaps the closest this island gets to a Tiger Woods-que golfing figure on her shores. No disrespect to the other golfers, the terraces will be and is expected to be filled with golfers and non-golfers alike – all hoping to get a glimpse of the super-star that nearly fizzled out early in the career. Outrageously talented at a young age of 14, Wie was tipped to be take the golfing world by storm, and so far that post-Tiger Woods world is still waiting with bated breath. 2009 has given us some glimpse of the vast potential that Wie has. Could 2010, the year of the Tiger, be the year Wie finally finds her range and appetite for victories on the fairways around the world?