World No. 6 Feng Shanshan will return to the Mission Hills World Ladies Championship in Hainan in March. Photo: C/O IMG.
World No. 6 Feng Shanshan will be aiming to give her home fans plenty to cheer about after the Chinese star confirmed she will play in next month’s US$600,000 Mission Hills World Ladies Championship.
World No. 5 Ryu So-yeon of Korea will join Feng at the star-studded Ladies European Tour (LET) event, which will be held over the Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Haikou on Hainan island from March 6-9.
The tournament will feature four of the world’s top six players, as Feng and Ryu join a stellar line-up that already includes World No. 1 Park In-bee and No. 2 Suzann Pettersen, the defending champion.
“I’m thrilled to be returning to Mission Hills Haikou for this fantastic event,” said the 24-year-old Feng, who won two titles on last year’s LPGA Tour.
“Having won the inaugural World Ladies Championship, the tournament will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m looking forward to playing in front of my home fans once more and will be aiming to put on a great show for them.”
Feng’s one-stroke victory over Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum at Mission Hills Haikou two years ago made her the first player from China to win on the LET. It was also her first significant victory in her home country and marked the beginning of an outstanding year.
In June 2012 she became the first Chinese golfer, male or female, to win a major when she captured the LPGA Championship and she added her second LET victory in December at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. She also won three times on the Japan LPGA Tour.
Ryu, 23, will also bring her major-winning talents to Mission Hills Haikou for the first time, having won the 2011 US Women’s Open.
Ryu So-yeon will make her debut at the World Ladies Championship. Photo: C/O Tristan Jones / Ladies European Tour.
“I have fond memories of playing and winning in China, but I’ve never visited Mission Hills so I’m really looking forward to competing at this world-famous venue,” said Ryu, the 2012 LPGA Rookie of the Year.
“Mission Hills and their partners are putting together a fantastic field for the World Ladies Championship and I’m especially relishing the chance to go up against the world’s best players.”
Ryu’s astonishing victory in the US Women’s Open rocketed her to stardom at the age of 21. Playing in just her third LPGA Tour event, she defeated compatriot Seo Hee-kyung in a playoff and went on to claim her second LPGA Tour victory in 2012 at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic.
Tenniel Chu, Vice Chairman of Mission Hills Group, said: “It is fantastic news for the World Ladies Championship that we have four of the world’s top six players taking part. As we approach the tournament’s third edition, we have already secured our strongest field yet and we look forward to announcing more star players soon.”
The World Ladies Championship is unique in professional golf in that it consists of three events in one – an individual professional competition, a professional team championship in which 18 countries are represented by teams of two, and an individual amateur tournament.
Ryu’s confirmation means she and Park – winner of last year’s first three majors – will form a formidable combination for Korea in the team event. Park won the team competition last year with Kim Ha-neul and also finished runner-up to Pettersen in the individual tournament.
This year’s field has been boosted by the inclusion of Australia’s Minjee Lee, currently the world’s third-ranked amateur, and her compatriot Su-hyun Oh, who is ranked fifth.
Lee, just 17, made headlines two weeks ago by finishing runner-up to Cheyenne Woods – niece of superstar Tiger Woods – in the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters in Australia and shared the third-round lead in last week’s Women’s Australian Open.
The Mission Hills World Ladies Championship, organised in conjunction with the China Golf Association and co-sanctioned by the China LPGA Tour, will be the fourth event on this year’s LET and is co-sponsored by American Express, DS, Fila and Toto.
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