World No 6 Lydia Ko of New Zealand and Major winner Minjee Lee of Australia will spearhead a stellar field when the Hana Financial Group Championship gets underway at the Adonis Country Club in Pocheon, Gyeonggi-do on Thursday.
The duo along with American Yealimi Noh and ‘Asian Prospects’ that include Singapore’s Shannon Tan, Malaysia’s Norezrina Alisa, Noraishah Alisa and the Thai trio of Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong, Onkanok Soisuwan and Jaravee Boonchant will also add an international flavour of the tournament which is back for its second edition.
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The Hana Financial Group Championship offers a lucrative prize purse of KRW 1.5 billion (approximately US$1.2 million). It is part of the Ladies Asian Tour (LAT) Series, organised by the Asia Golf Leaders Forum, a non-profit organisation founded last year to help advance women’s golf in Asia.
A keen advocate of women’s golf, Ko said: “Women’s golf in Asia has been growing and growing over generations. We’ve had so many influential role models in the past, and as players, we are trying to make it a little bit better for our future generations too. Women’s golf in Asia is only going to keep becoming more popular and stronger.”
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Ko has been enjoying a good run of form this year, winning the Lotte Championship in April along with securing eight top-10s so far. The 24-year-old also clinched the bronze medal at the recent Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Having won her first Major title in July, Lee is also grateful for the opportunity to showcase her talents at the Hana Financial Group Championship, which will be broadcast to a global audience from over 20 countries.
The World No 10 believes the appeal of women’s golf in Asia is getting stronger and is delighted to play her part in growing it further.
“Women’s golf in Asia is definitely bigger than anywhere else in the world, and I feel like it has at least equal appeal if not more appeal than the men’s golf in Asia which makes it a very special place for us to play.
“The young golfers coming through are amazing in terms of strength and depth, so I think Asian – and may I say Australasian players – are going to be doing great things on the Tour in the coming years!” said the 25-year-old Australian.
Noh, who made her Solheim Cup debut earlier this month, is delighted to be part of the international mix of players. She also makes her maiden appearance at the Hana Financial Group Championship this week.
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“Women’s golf is truly an international game, and I’m lucky to be able to play every week next to players from all corners of the world. It’s popularity in Asia will only grow, especially after the Olympics in Tokyo this summer. I’m confident the Hana Financial Group Championship can continue to highlight the best players from this region and grow the fanbase here,” said the American.
In line with the KLPGA’s “Vision 2028” and “Leap Towards Global No. 1 Tour” ambitions and as part of its ‘Asian Prospects’ campaign, Hana Financial Group is also extending its invitation to promising Asian young golfers from Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia to compete in the tournament.
Thailand’s Jaravee Boonchant is among the six ‘Asian Prospects’ who will be relishing the challenges of competing against a stellar field this week.
“I am very excited to play in the 2021 Hana Financial Group Championship. Due to the pandemic, I haven’t had a chance to go back to Asia after my graduation. So, I’m really looking forward to playing in Korea this week.
“Especially, this will be my first time playing as a professional outside of the U.S.,” said the 22-year-old Boonchant, who recently graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Statistics.
The other players who were invited to the tournament include Singapore’s Shannon Tan, Malaysia’s Norezrine Alisa and Noraishah Alisa and Thailand’s Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong and Onkanok Soisuwan.
Ladies Asian Tour