SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Still searching for consistency after suffering a back injury, Park In-bee is delighted to be in familiar surroundings as she embarks on her defense of the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore this week.
Park went bogey-free over 72 holes at the demanding Serapong Course to see off Lydia Ko a year ago, kickstarting a season that would add four more wins, including her sixth and seventh majors, and the Korean will be hoping for a repeat on Sunday.
“I really love this golf course and I know I can do it. So I have good levels building up now... hopefully this week can give me a lot of confidence,” Park told reporters on Wednesday.
“This tournament was a lucky charm last year, so I would like to get that going this week as well. Even if I don’t end up holding the trophy, I would like to take something from this tournament,” she added, while explaining how frustrating her injury had been.
“I wish I was better prepared but I just came back to competition after about of month out with the injury,” the 27-year-old added.
“I feel like I‘m definitely in better shape than I was last week or a month ago. It’s just getting better and better but I just don’t want to rush for anything.”
Park admitted that the tropical heat of Singapore was better for her back than playing in chillier climes and the city-state’s tight courses seemed to help keep her fully focused over four rounds.
“Singapore golf courses never seem to be too wide, so you need to be pretty accurate off the tee and to the second shots to the green. Obviously the greens are pretty grainy here with the tropical weather,” she added.
“But last year was special. I never had a tournament where I didn’t make a bogey for 72 holes before and I had all my family here with me, so that made it even better. I always enjoy coming here and playing good golf definitely helped the trip.”
The Korean edged out world number one Ko by two strokes in 2015 but Park refused to single out the only woman above her in the rankings as the player to beat.
“There are 80 people in the field trying to win this week, so I‘m not worried about just one of them,” she said.
“It’s more likely you’re playing your own game. If I play my perfect game, I can win the tournament. I think golf is just trying to bring that out of yourself.”
Reporting by John O'Brien; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly