World No.2 Suzann Pettersen will defend at the Mission Hills World Ladies Championship in Haikou, China, in early March

World No.1 Inbee Park and defending champion Suzann Pettersen are ready to renew their rivalry at the forthcoming Mission Hills World Ladies Championship in China.

Pettersen, the world No.2, edged out Park by a single shot in a thrilling conclusion to last year’s tournament. Park still had plenty to celebrate, though, lifting the team trophy for South Korea with compatriot Ha Neul Kim.

The World Ladies Championship marked the start of a stellar year for both the world’s top players. Park went on to capture six titles on the LPGA Tour in 2013, including the first three Majors of the season.

Last week she was named Female Player of the Year by the Golf Writers Association of America with an astonishing 91 per cent of the 220 votes cast.

“I had a fantastic time at the World Ladies Championship last year and so I’m thrilled to be returning to Mission Hills Haikou for this year’s event,” said Park.

“Finishing as runner-up in the individual tournament has made me determined to go one better this time and, of course, I’ll be aiming to successfully defend the team title for Korea. Mission Hills Haikou is a wonderful facility and the welcome we receive is first class, so I’m really looking forward to coming back.”

After winning the World Ladies Championship, Norway’s Pettersen went on to lift four LPGA Tour titles, including the season’s fifth and final Major, the Evian Championship.

“I have great memories of my victory at Mission Hills Haikou as it kicked off a brilliant year for me, so I’m delighted to be returning to defend my title,” said Pettersen. “It was a great tussle over the closing holes with Inbee so I’m happy to know she is coming back as well and I’m relishing the challenge.

“I know Mission Hills are putting together a fantastic field for the tournament and fans can look forward to four days of tremendous golf.”

From right: World No.1 Inbee Park and Ha-Neul Kim who last year combined to win the team event for South Korea ahead of Norway

The US$600,000 Mission Hills World Ladies Championship will be held on the challenging Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Haikou, on the paradise island of Hainan, from 6 March.

Organised in conjunction with the China Golf Association and co-sanctioned by the China LPGA Tour, it will be the fourth event on this year’s Ladies European Tour (LET) schedule.

“We are delighted to welcome back Inbee Park and Suzanne Pettersen to the World Ladies Championship,” commented Mission Hills Group Vice Chairman Mr Tenniel Chu. “The presence of the world’s top two players at Mission Hills Haikou is wonderful news for everyone associated with the tournament.

“We will be announcing more star players in the near future as we continue to assemble a world-class field for this prestigious event, which we are confident will maintain Mission Hills’ proud tradition of bringing unforgettable golf experiences to the people of China.”

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.

“We believe this three-in-one format is hugely attractive to players and sponsors and is extremely beneficial for the women’s game in general,” added Mr Chu. “The individual professional event showcases women’s golf at its highest level while the team championship adds a patriotic element that is becoming increasingly important and relevant in golf today.

“We are especially proud that the amateur championship possesses a truly global nature with up and coming players travelling from all over the world to learn from and play alongside the greats of the game.

“The best example of this is Lydia Ko of New Zealand, who played in the first Mission Hills World Ladies Championship in 2012 as an amateur and is now the world’s No.4 professional player.”

This year’s field has been boosted by the inclusion of Australia’s Su-Hyun Oh, currently the world’s second-ranked amateur, and her compatriot Minjee Lee, who is ranked fifth. The 2013 amateur competition was won by China’s Feng Siming.

The Mission Hills World Ladies Championship is co-sponsored by global services company American Express; Innovative Spirit from Paris, CAPSA New Generation Premium car brand – DS; premium Italian lifestyle brand FILA; and high-end, world-renowned bathroom brand TOTO.