Strong field in Korea for LPGA Asian opener

The LPGA Tour heads to South Korea this week for its annual stop and three of the game’s top stars will be present.

The KEB Hana Bank Championship gets underway on Thursday at the Sky72 Golf & Resort’s Ocean Course.

All but one of the LPGA’s top-10 players will feature, while the top three – South Korean’s Ryu So-yeon and Park Sung-hyun and Lexi Thompson of the US – will look to add to their tally of titles for the season.

The trio each have two victories this year, although Ryu and Park’s wins include a major.

Rookie Park currently leads in the money stakes with winnings of more than $1.9 million, with Ryu in second with $1.78 million and Thompson third ($1.66 million).

But Ryu is currently world number one and also leads the Rolex Player of the Year race with 150 points. Thompson is second on 147 points while Park lies third with 130 points.

Final tee shot of my 18 hole practice round here in South Korea 🙂 #kebhanabank #somethingjustlikethis

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

Other top names present include Canada’s Brooke Henderson, plus Korean’s Kim In-kyung (world number 8) and Chun In-gee (world number 6).

Speaking ahead of the tournament, Ryu said she is ready to go after a three-week break.

“It’s exciting to be back out on the course, and it makes it even more significant to make my return to the tour in Korea,” Ryu said. “I am feeling great, and I am looking forward to some great golf this week.”

Park, meanwhile, said she is hoping to find form again after a disappointing run of form of late.

“I feel very relaxed and comfortable to be playing at home,” she said. “I was really down on myself for the past couple of weeks, but I made some good shots in the practice round yesterday. So I have high expectations for myself.”

Thompson will be hoping she can pull off a repeat of her 2015 win here.

It won’t be easy though, as several Korea LPGA Tour players will also join the strong line-up, including current tour leader Lee Jeong-eun and teenage sensation Choi Hye-jin, who finished runner-up at this year’s US Women’s Open as an amateur.

Choi is already ranked 18 in the world just a month after turning pro, and will play thanks to a tournament invite.

“It’s an honor for me to be here as a rookie, and I am grateful for the invitation,” Choi said. “I’ll just focus on building experience and getting better each day.”

After it’s stop in South Korea, the tour heads to Taiwan, Malaysia, Japan and then China.