World number 25 and defending champion Jiyai Shin is in a confident mood as she prepares to defend the ActewAGL Canberra Classic she won in style here at Royal Canberra Golf Club last year.
The Korean superstar will once again start the tournament as the highest ranked player in the field this week and will be the hot favourite to take out her third title from three events at Royal Canberra, having taken out the 2013 ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open and the ActewAGL Canberra Classic in 2018.
Shin has clearly taken a liking to Canberra and to Australia as a whole, she also won the Australian Ladies Masters on the Gold Coast back in 2015. Shin said…" Last year I started my season in Canberra and I had a great year. I love coming back to Canberra, it is such a nice calm place and I want to learn as much as I can while I am here about Australia and its history"
One player who will be hoping she can match it with the Korean star is Australian Hannah Green who is coming off a top-10 finish at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open in Adelaide two weeks ago and then a second place finish at last week’s Pacific Bay Resort Classic at Bonville.
The 22-year-old is in just her third year as a professional and will be heading off to the US to compete on the LPGA Tour in March for her second season competing against the world’s leading players. While Green is yet to taste victory on Australian soil she does have three professional wins to her credit in 2016 while competing on the US Symetra Tour.
Green said " This is my first visit to Royal Canberra this week. I am really looking forward to the tournament and looking to step up and prove that I can get that first win at home"
Dame Laura Davies has returned to Canberra again this week and will play the opening two rounds alongside Shin and Green at 8:03 am tomorrow morning from the tenth tee.
Historically the Royal Canberra layout hasn’t been kind to Davies but she is coming off a solid year on the LPGA Tour in 2018 and also collected two senior major titles on the Women’s Legends Tour, the US Senior Women's Open and the Senior Women’s LPGA Championship.
The 55-year-old is always a crowd favourite anywhere she tees it up and she will no doubt want to prove to her much younger playing partners that she can still be competitive at this level on the regular women’s tours.
Other players who are expected to contend this week are last week’s Pacific Bay Resort Classic champion Marianne Skarpnord and Dutch star Anne Van Dam, who had a spectacular finish to 2018 winning on ESTRELLA DAMM LADIES OPEN and the ANDALUCIA OPEN DE ESPANA on the Ladies European Tour and also gaining her full playing rights for 2019 on the US LPGA Tour.
Sweden also has a strong hand this week with Solheim Cup stars Madelene Sagstrom and Caroline Hedwall competing, along with promising youngster Linnea Strom. Sagstrom has been in contention at both the Australian Open and Bonville Classic the past two weeks but has not been able to hold that form for all 4 days, while Strom has been highly touted by those in the know as a potential top-10 player and she showed some of that form last week in Bonville where she tied for 8th place.
Of the other Australian competing this week, Sarah Kemp has had a superb start to her 2019 season with a 2nd place finish at the ISPS Handa Vic Open followed by another top-10 finish at the Australian Open the following week.
In terms of the Australian amateur players competing this week Sydney’s Doey Choi will be hoping she can play herself into contention as she did last week in Bonville where she went on to finish in 4th place and will be tough to beat in terms of the leading amateur prize. Choi’s fellow NSW teammate, Grace Kim, who had a superb 2018 season including winner the Gold Medal at the Youth Olympics will also be hoping to impress this week, as will their NSW compatriot Stephanie Kyriakou who claimed Female Master of the amateurs crown at Royal Melbourne in January.
Play will get underway on Friday morning at 7:30 am, tickets can be purchased online HERE or at the gate.
Live scoring can be found online HERE
Click HERE for first round tee-times.
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