Suzann Pettersen has 2 busy weeks ahead of her. It all begins this Friday, October 18. A field of 78 players will be chasing the 2012 defending champ when they tee it up at the LPGA KEB – HanaBank Championship at the Sky 72 Golf Club in Incheon, Korea.
With a $1.9 million purse, there’s a $285K check waiting for the HanaBank winner.
From the HanaBank, Pettersen will go on to defend her 2012 championship at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship October 24-27 at the Sunrise Golf and Country Club in Yang Mei, Taiwan.
Suzann Pettersen’s star is bright and seems to be ascending. Her win at The Evian Championship in September, her 3rd victory in 2013, moved her up from 3rd to 2nd in the Rolex Rankings.
In addition to victories at the Evian, the LPGA Lotte Championship in April and the Safeway Classic in August, Pettersen’s also earned 12 top-10 finishes this year. Her game stats are impressive: #1 in making greens in regulation; #2 in scoring average (69.59) & rounds under par; #3 in rounds in the 60s; #4 in sub-par holes.
After a 3 week rest, Pettersen warmed up for the back-to-back title defenses with a 3rd place tie at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. The Sime Darby 2013 champion, Rolex ranked #14 Lexi Thompson, is certainly coming in to the HanaBank hot. Thompson demonstrated a stunning mental game at the Sime Darby. She used her focus and self-confidence to sharpen her putting and outplay a tight field in the final round. Can she sustain that winning game and put it work again at the HanaBank?
Lexi Thompson certainly won’t be the only player chasing Pettersen and the HanaBank title.
It’s worth noting that Pettersen is the only Westerner to win the HanaBank since 2002, the event’s inaugural year. Rolex ranked #1 Inbee Park is heading a field of 35 Korean players, 12 of them members of the Korean LPGA, who will be playing on home ground before an enthusiastic home town crowd. Despite a protracted slump and a flat stick that’s gone from red hot to icy cold since her US Women’s Open victory in June, Inbee Park is sure to be welcomed as the local golf heroine by an enthusiastic following.
And if Park should falter, there are 34 other home town favorites for local fans to cheer. Rolex ranked #4 So Yeon Ryu and #6 ranked Na Yeon Choi are both ready to take Inbee Park’s place at the top of the Korean golfers’ pile. This would be the ideal moment for either of them to make a move up the rankings. I’m keeping them on my radar.
Suzann Pettersen’s not likely to be intimidated by the competition and she’s highly motivated to win the HanaBank for a 2nd time. She’s running 2nd to Inbee Park in the Rolex Rankings and in on the official money list for 2013 and 2nd to Stacy Lewis in 2013 scoring average and top-10 finishes. Lewis isn’t playing in the HanaBank. Pettersen’s made no secret of her desire to end the 2013 season with a clean sweep of #1 rankings. She needs this victory. That’s the making for a hard-played tournament on a challenging course!
The Golf Channel will provide daily coverage of the HanaBank, 11am-2pm, ET, and I’ll also provide a daily wrap-up of the tournament rounds.