Hong Kong: Eight home-grown talents will fly the flag for Hong Kong in the fifth edition of the US$150,000 EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open.
LPGA Tour player Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching (pictured right) will spearhead the local challenge from May 10-12 when the event returns to the venerable Old Course at the Hong Kong Golf Club, a Golf Course Facility Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
Joining Chan in the starting line-up is fellow professional Isabella Leung Hei-nam and Hong Kong Golf Association (HKGA) amateurs Chloe Chan Cheuk-yee, Michelle Cheung Wing-yee, Virginie Ding Wai-chung, Mimi Ho Miu-yee, Stephanie Ho Ngan-si and Inara Diti Sharma.
Long touted as one of Hong Kong’s most promising prospects, 15-year-old Chan secured her berth at this year’s tournament following her five-shot victory in last September’s Esprit Hong Kong Ladies Open Amateur Championship. A long-standing member of the HKGA’s Junior Squad, Chan has also been an EFG Young Athletes Foundation scholar since 2018.
Chan, who will be making her fourth appearance in the tournament, was also an age-group winner in December’s Pondok Indah International Junior Championship.
“I feel I’ve made some solid progress over the last year with a couple of good tournament wins and some top-10 finishes. I hope I can take my recent form into the EFG Hong Kong Open and get my name on the leaderboard on Sunday. I’d like to thank EFG Bank for the additional support they have lent me through the EFG Young Athletes Foundation over the past year,” said Chan.
Meanwhile, Ding returns to Fanling after a stellar run of form that saw her secure wins in the 2018 Zhang Lianwei Cup International Junior Macau Open Championship last November and outright victory in the Pondok Indah International Junior Championship. She makes her second start in the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open following a further win in January’s Hong Kong Ladies Close Amateur Championship.
Speaking from Japan, where she and Ho represented Hong Kong in the second Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific, 16-year old Ding said: “I’m pretty happy with my game right now and have had some good results over the last six months. We travel a lot playing golf so it will be great to come back and play in front of family and our home fans again in one of the highlights of my year.”
The Hong Kong contingent will face stellar competition in a 123-player field that includes some seasoned professionals who will be looking to bank the winner’s cheque.
Leading the international charge will be Thailand’s Parinda Phokan, the top-ranked player in the field, according to the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. She’ll be joined by fellow Thais Supamas Sangchan, the 2017 champion, and Renuka Suksukont, whose two-stroke victory in the Hengqin Phoenix Tree Building Orient Golf Challenge in March puts her in second place in the China LPGA Order of Merit.
One of China’s big hopes for the future, Liu Wenbo, who turned professional in 2018, leads the 18-strong contingent of players from the mainland which includes current China LPGA Tour Order of Merit leader Liu Yiyi who claimed her maiden tournament win in last month’s CTBC Ladies Classic.
The LPGA of Taiwan will also have a strong presence, led by Chen Yu-ju, currently second on TLPGA Order of Merit, and Kuo Ai-chen, while Aretha Pan and Michelle Koh will fly the flag for Malaysia.
There are also 28 Ladies Asian Golf Tour members in the field, representing Australia, Canada, India, Japan, Kenya, South Korea and Thailand.
In total, there will be players from 14 different countries and territories.
The field is completed by EFG Bank’s invitation to rising Australian star Rebecca Kay, who tied for sixth posted at last year’s World Amateur Championships in Ireland.
Albert Chiu, Executive Chairman of EFG Bank, Asia Pacific, said: “As the tournament title sponsor, we are delighted to see such a high-quality international field once again at the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open. EFG Bank Hong Kong and its Young Athletes Foundation are passionate in developing young local talent, and while fans will get to enjoy world-class golfing action, upcoming players such as our Foundation scholar Chloe Chan and invitee Becky Kay will gain invaluable competitive experience against seasoned professionals. We look forward to the best edition of the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open yet.”
Dean Nelson, Championship Manager, said: “We’re very pleased with how the field has come together. We have a record number of players signed up, with a strong showing of homegrown talent, some well-established international competitors and a number of up-and-coming players from throughout the region.
“The tournament will provide the likes of Chloe (Chan), Virginie (Ding) and Isabella (Leung) with the opportunity to test themselves against their international competitors on a course they are familiar with, while benefiting from the support of their home fans. The field make-up reaffirms the tournament’s commitment to the development of local and international talent and will provide a great showcase for the game in Hong Kong for all to enjoy.”