Jang hopes hard work pays off in her title defence
The 2016 HSBC Women's Champions winner reveals she was training 11 to 12 hours a day during winter
Jang Ha Na was all smiles yesterday, when she chatted about her return to Sentosa at the HSBC Women's Champions pre-tournament press conference at the Sentosa Golf Club.
But, after hearing one question, the South Korean turned to the moderator seated beside her and whispered: "Can I skip this question?"
Jang, 24, won the US$1.5 million (S$2.1m) tournament last year, but her trip here was also the start of a massive controversy in her country.
Before the tournament, Jang's father was standing behind Korean golfer Chun In Gee on an escalator at the Changi Airport, and dropped a 7kg suitcase on the latter.
Chun was forced to withdraw from the HSBC Women's Champions as a result, with Jang's father accused of sabotage. The situation was not helped by Jang's dance-jig celebration after she won the HSBC event, and it went down badly in Korea.
That incident had a domino effect, and led to tears, insomnia, and Jang's eventual withdrawal from last year's Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic.
"It's difficult to talk about, sorry," said Jang to the journalist who quizzed her on how things have been since the incident.
But her smile returned when she talked about her experience in Singapore.
Jang, who won the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open last month, said: "First time in Singapore, finish top three and last year I win, so I'm always happy to stay in Singapore. It's really good.
"During the winter I've been training really hard, 11 hours or 12 hours a day, waking up at 4.30 every day and finish the day at 9pm."
The world-class HSBC Women's Champions field will have to negotiate a tough new course from tomorrow to Sunday.
First time in Singapore, finish top three and last year I win, so I’m always happy to stay in Singapore.Jang Ha Na
The New Tanjong Course, which replaced the Serapong Course used in the previous four years, is promising to be a challenge.
"Since nobody knows this golf course and has seen it, it's definitely fair this week," said Lexi Thompson, who has been working on putting and her short game in the off-season.
"The course is in great shape... But the greens are firm, so it will definitely be a little tricky," said the 22-year-old American, who paid tribute to Olympic champion Park Inbee's "consistent" short game.
Park, however, is planning to take it easy in Sentosa.
She had a roller-coaster 2016 season.
At 27, she became the youngest player to be inducted into the LPGA Hall of Fame, and became the sport's first female Olympic champion.
But a back issue and an injured ligament in her thumb saw her miss 19 Tour events in her post-Rio break.
She returned to action at the Honda LPGA Thailand last month, and finished tied for 25th.
"I think my long game is definitely there to win. But my short game and putting wasn't quite there last week," she said.
"But, I'm really slowly getting the feel of it... I'm just not going to rush for anything. I'm just going to let it happen."
Park concurred with many others who believe the short game and putting will determine the winner.
"Greens are a little bit slower than what we are used to, but I think it may get faster as the week goes on," she said.
"Yeah, the putting is the most important thing. Around the greens, I made a few mistakes last week but I think they can go away pretty quickly.
"But you've got to hole some putts to score well."
- Tickets for the HSBC Women's Champions start from $20, with free entry for children aged 16 and below. Go to http://www.hsbcgolf.com/womens for details.