World No. 1 Inbee Park will try to end the mini-drought which has punctuated her magnificent season when she defends her title at this week’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. The 25-year-old swept all before her earlier this year, winning six titles in 13 events including three majors — a run that put her on the verge of a historic grand slam.
However, since winning the US Open in June, victory has eluded the South Korean who is now aiming to successfully defend a title for the first time in her career.
“I didn’t expect to win that much this year. I’ve gone beyond my expectations. The things I’ve done are incredible,” she said at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. “This season has been very special, and up and down. I had a good finish last week which gives me a lot of confidence.”
Park, in the spotlight as she tried to become the first player to win all four majors in one year, disappointingly tied for 67th at the Evian Championship last month.
She rediscovered her form to claim third place at last week’s Reignwood Classic in Beijing, the first of five back-to-back tournaments in Asia.
Park leads the season’s prizemoney list with US$2,306,328 and also tops the player of the year rankings with 290 points, 86 ahead of Norway’s Suzann Pettersen.
“My main goal for the year was to win the player of the year award, and it is not over yet,” Park said. “I have never successfully defended a title before, and that is another aim I have for this week’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.”
Meanwhile, Yani Tseng, who was world No. 1 for 109 weeks until March, is hoping to recover from a slump which has seen her ranking drop to 20th.
“I’m happy to be playing again. My swing has improved and I feel comfortable,” said the Taiwanese player, who missed the Evian cut, but then finished sixth in China.
Prize money has risen to US$2 million for the fourth edition of the tournament in Malaysia.
The winner will claim a US$300,000 check and 30 player of the year points, which are calculated separately from the two-year rolling rankings.