Hyun-Ji Kim is relishing the opportunity to defend her Korean Ladies Masters title from November 5-7th, 12 months after her victory at the co-sanctioned event between the Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) and Ladies European Tour.
The 22-year-old from Incheon clinched a three-way play-off after last year’s event at Cypress Country Club on Jeju Island was taken to extra time on Monday morning due to darkness. Kim defeated So Yeon Ryu at the second extra hole with a birdie four, after fellow Korean Sarah Lee was eliminated at the first play-off hole.
It was Kim’s first victory on the KLPGA, although she had previously won three tournaments on the Korean feeder tour, called the Dream Tour.
Kim’s visit to the winner’s enclosure gave her the chance to join the Ladies European Tour and she is hoping for a repeat performance when the tournament takes place at nearby Haevichi Hotel and Resort on Jeju Island in less than a month’s time.
“I’d like to win again at the same tournament where I recorded my first win on the KLPGA Tour,” said Kim, who was 10th on the KLPGA Money List last season, but has struggled somewhat this year. “I think I can win again, because I have already done it before. I will make myself strong and steady with my mind. Everyone dreams of the very first win. Fortunately, my first win was on the Korean and European Tours so I could get a card for the Ladies European Tour. That was excellent.
“I didn’t do well this year. In the early season, I felt something was missing. As time went by, it was getting worse and I couldn’t get my confidence when I hit driver. I missed cuts after the summer, but now it’s getting better.”
Kim fired rounds of 69, 73 and 73 to make the play-off and capture the title last year, in windy and testing conditions.
“I want to remember the feeling from last year. I always try to be better and I need the champion’s trophy again! The only thing I can do is keep it simple: hit the ball straight and make some putts. I will do my best,” she said.
Kim will face stiff competition from Europe’s leading players including current No.1 Laura Davies, No.2 Lee-Anne Pace and Melissa Reid, who is ranked third on the 2010 Henderson Money List and fellow recent tournament champions, Trish Johnson and Karen Lunn.
The 102-player strong field comprises 45 LET players, seven sponsor invitations and 50 players from the KLPGA.