World Number one Yani Tseng, Number two Suzann Pettersen, Defending Champion Karrie Webb and Hawaiian Superstar Michelle Wie Launch Stellar Tournament
The best women golfers in the world chose to “Say It with Flowers” as they launched the latest stellar edition of the HSBC Women’s Champions at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
World number one Yani Tseng, defending champion Karrie Webb, and two other leading contenders Suzann Pettersen and Michelle Wie completed a world map with orchids and ribbons and then exchanged Singapore’s national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid, with each other to symbolise the way the HSBC event brings the best talent from all over the world to compete in the Lion City.
“The ribbons and orchids are the roadmap to one of the best weeks of the year for us!” said Tseng, a winner of two Majors last year. “You will find the best players in the world – players from all over the world – challenging this week. This is only the fifth year for the event, but the winners have all been such great players and every tournament has been so good that it has quickly become a tournament that the top players particularly want to win! I know I certainly do!” added the Taiwanese star, the LPGA Player of the Year and winner of seven LPGA tournaments in 2011.
Over the course of the previous four tournaments, the HSBC Women’s Champions has developed a roll of honour almost unrivalled in the world of golf. All of the winners – Lorena Ochoa in 2008, Jiyai Shin in 2009, Ai Miyazato in 2010 and Karrie Webb last year – belong to the small and highly exclusive club of players to have been at the very top of the women’s game and all have gone on to win again in the year of their Singapore triumphs.
“HSBC’s goal was to create truly international events and world-class golf tournaments in emerging markets, and the HSBC Women’s Champions, just like the WGC-HSBC Champions in China, has done just that. Both tournaments have also played a leading role in the growth and expansion of top-level tournament golf in Asia,” said Giles Morgan, HSBC’s Group Head of Sponsorship. “We’re really proud to be playing a role in spearheading the growth and development of golf in markets outside the sport’s traditional heartlands and helping to showcase vibrant and exciting cities like Singapore to the world,” he added.
Webb, who showed as much promise as Yani Tseng early in her career, setting records for being, at the time, the youngest player to qualify for the World Golf Hall of Fame and the youngest player to earn the Career Grand Slam of Majors, says the tournament certainly succeeds in showcasing the best that Singapore has to offer. “It’s not just a great tournament, it’s a great week. We get looked after very, very well. We stay in a wonderful hotel, there’s great hospitality and we play on a fabulous challenging golf course. On top of that, Singapore just does a great job of making us feel very, very welcome,” said the 37-year-old Australian.
Alex Hungate, Group General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of HSBC Singapore said: “The fact that the golfers enjoy the Singapore experience is important, because in turn it enhances the experience of the fans, and our clients, customers and staff. HSBC views sponsorship both as an investment to help sustain and grow our business and as an opportunity to connect with our customers and colleagues in the local communities which we serve.”
To signal the official launch of the tournament week, Tseng and Webb were joined by two of the other top-class players competing this week: world number two Suzann Pettersen and Michelle Wie.
For Wie, as a native of Hawaii, doing it with flowers was a familiar experience as the islands traditionally great visitors with a lei, the garland of flowers symbolising love, respect and spiritual connection. “There always seems to be a special connection when we launch this week. Last year I was connecting with my family roots by wearing a traditional Korean Hanbok. This year I’m connecting with my Hawaiian roots through flowers,” said the 22-year-old American superstar.
Robbie Henchman, Senior Vice President and Global Co-Managing Director of IMG Golf said, “HSBC has shown that they are committed to growing the game of golf within Asia and the HSBC Women’s Champions event demonstrates just that. This year’s superlative field once again highlights the status that this tournament holds amongst the players and golfing community alike. The 2012 lineup, which includes nine of the current top ten on the Rolex Rankings, also ensures for a highly anticipated tournament here in Singapore. I hope the fans will enjoy the forthcoming four days of great golfing action and I wish all the players the best of luck as they battle it out to claim this year’s HSBC Women’s Champions title.”
In 2011, seven-time Major champion Karrie Webb reeled off three consecutive birdies to see off a late charge by Yani Tseng and the stubborn resistance of Japan’s Chie Arimura. She finished one shot clear of Arimura with a 13-under-par, 275 winning score. She franked that form by winning in her next start too at the RR Donnelly Founders Cup in Phoenix, Arizona.
Ai Miyazato, who won the HSBC Women’s Champions 2010 after defeating Cristie Kerr by two strokes, became the first player in 44 years to open a LPGA Tour season with two consecutive wins after also claiming the Honda PTT LPGA Thailand 2010.
Jiyai Shin had a phenomenal rookie season with her victory at the HSBC Women’s Champions 2009, kick-starting a winning season which she ended at the top of the Official Money List.
Lorena Ochoa, who has since retired from the sport, lifted the inaugural trophy in Singapore in 2008 with an outstanding final score of 20-under, 11 shots ahead of her closest challenger.
For more information on the HSBC Women’s Champions 2012, please visit the tournament website at http://www.hsbcgolf.com.