Godfrey Robert: No clear favourite for HSBC Women's Champions
Unlike Sorenstam and Ochoa, no woman golfer currently stands supreme
In the days of superstars Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa, women's golf was a little more predictable.
Sorenstam, the retired Swedish golfer whose achievements rank her as one of the most successful women golfers in history, with 90 pro international tournament victories - 72 official LPGA tournaments including 10 Majors, and 18 other tournaments.
The winner of a record eight Player of the Year awards and six Vare Trophies given to the LPGA player with the lowest seasonal scoring average, she is the only woman golfer to shoot a 59 in competition.
The 45-year-old also holds various all-time scoring records, including the lowest season scoring average: 68.69 in 2004. With that kind of record, she would be the favourite for the event whenever and wherever she competed.
So too Ochoa, the top-ranked golfer for more than three years (April 2007 to May 2010), buoyed by 30 professional victories and two Majors.
Since then, women's golf has become more open and any of the top 15 world-ranked players can turn it on in a major event and bag the biggest prize.
The statistics of the HSBC Women's Champions bear this out.
When Ochoa won the inaugural competition in February 2008 at Tanah Merah's Garden course, she won by a whopping 11 strokes with a 20-under score of 268.
But, in the next seven editions, from 2009 to 2012 at the Garden course, and from 2013 to 2015 at Sentosa's Serapong course, the margin of victory was never beyond two shots, with two of them going into play-offs. And there has never been a two-time winner.
Add to that is the fact that the Serapong course can reduce a champion into a chump with some tough, challenging holes that bring about a big-stroke swing.
That being the scenario, the ninth US$1.5 million ($2.1m) HSBC event, starting tomorrow at Serapong, is anybody's game.
World No.1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand and world No. 2 South Korean Park Inbee are the joint-favourites, based on their current form.
And Lexi Thompson of the United States, who won last week's Honda LPGA Thailand by a massive six strokes, is another fancied golfer.
With six past champions - Ai Miyazato, Karrie Webb, Angela Stanford, Stacy Lewis, Paula Creamer and Park - in the field, the permutations get a little more complex.
Others to look out for are Kim Sei Yong and In Gee Chun, Ryu So Yeon, Choi Na Yeon (South Korea), Feng Shanshan (China), Brooke Henderson (Canada), Suzann Pettersen (Norway), Brittany Lincicome and Morgan Pressel (US).
“One of things you regularly hear from fans, players and officials is that they enjoy the ‘Singapore Experience’ — not just the golf but the facilities, the city and the weather. So, in addition to a starstudded field of the world’s finest golfers, we’ve also got one of the most celebrated pop acts on the planet and a leading celebrity chef monica galetti.”
— HSBC Global Head of Sponsorship and Events Giles Morgan
“Sorry, i’m a 90s baby.”
— World No. 1 Lydia Ko, on not being familiar with the headlining musical act this week — Take That
“At the australian Open, i was paired with Laura Davies and karrie webb. both in the hall of Fame, i was in great company. i grew up watching these players. hopefully, i’ll become one of the legendary players some day.”
— Brooke Henderson
2015: Park Inbee, 273 (−15) by two strokes, Serapong.
2014: Paula Creamer, 278 (−10) after play-off, Serapong.
2013: Stacy Lewis, 273 (−15) by one stroke, Serapong.
2012: Angela Stanford, 278 (−10) after playoff, Garden.
2011: Karrie Webb, 275 (−13) by one stroke, Garden.
2010: Ai Miyazato, 278 (−10) by two strokes, Garden.
2009: Shin Jiyai, 277 (−11) by two strokes, Garden.
2008: Lorena Ochoa, 268 (−20) by 11 strokes, Garden.
Fab Four on song
Four of the world's best golfers turned up the volume ahead of this week's high-voltage showdown in Singapore by staging a one-off performance as a star-studded golfing super group yesterday.
New Zealand's Lydia Ko, South Korea's Park Inbee and US star Lexi Thompson were joined by China's Feng Shanshan for a rocking workout ahead of the tournament at Sentosa Golf Club.
Ko took the microphone on lead singer duties, defending champion Park played keyboard, with Thompson on bass guitar and Feng on drums (above).
Fittingly, as the quartet prepare to battle it out for the HSBC Women's Champions trophy, they played along to Take That's 2007 comeback anthem "Rule The World" which the legendary British pop act will no doubt perform at their concert on Saturday evening.
The performance kicked off a week of world-class sport and entertainment on and off the course with sponsor HSBC and players hailing the event as "golf as you've never seen it before".
Ko said: "It feels great to be the No. 1 in the golfing world, but I'm not sure I'm ready for No. 1 in the charts just yet.
"Singapore is always a landmark date in the calendar and music is a real inspiration for me - it gets me started in the mornings and sets the tone for the day.
"I hope I can get this world-class field dancing to my tune in what promises to be another memorable week."