Lau, Ling to fly Malaysia’s flag at Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open

Malaysia’s rising star Ashley Lau believes the opportunity to tee up at the Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open is just too good to turn down, prompting her to postpone a return to the United States where she’s based.

The 23-year-old is one of the two Malaysians, alongside Genevieve Ling, set to tee it up at the S$1.1 million event at Tanah Merah Country Club, which serves as the curtain-raiser for the 2024 KLPGA Tour season from March 7-10.

Lau, currently competing full-time on the Symetra Tour, the developmental circuit for the LPGA Tour, has demonstrated excellent form in recent months while participating on the WPGA Tour of Australasia, and she’s eager to replicate those performances in the Lion City.

Lau had a remarkable run Down Under, participating in five consecutive events between January and February, with the highlight being her victory at the Vic Open, marking her maiden professional career triumph.

Her win was even more satisfying as she defeated former world number one and winner of 64 titles worldwide Shin Ji-yai Shin of South Korea by a single shot, denying the latter a successful title defence at the tournament.

Lau also secured a solo runner-up finish at the mixed-field Webex Players Series, emerging as the highest-placed woman competitor in the tournament.

Now, Lau eagerly anticipates measuring herself against the heavyweights of the KLPGA Tour at the Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open, where 16 of the top 20 finishers from last season’s points standings are set to compete.

Among the notable names headlining the field is KLPGA Player of the Year Lee Ye-won, KLPGA Rookie of the Year Kim Min-byeol, Hyun-kyung, Bang Shin-sil, 2022 KLPGA Player of the Year Park Min-ji, Ma Da-som, Hwang You-min, and Lee Da-yeon.

Given this formidable lineup, it’s understandable why Lau had no hesitation in forgoing the Epson Tour’s season-opening Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, which coincides with the Singapore event.

“When the opportunity came, I just took it. It’s a good field so I’m looking forward to it,” said Lau.

“I’ll be missing the first Epson event, but there’s a whole year. It will be good preparation because anytime I’m playing, I learn something new about my game or realise where I can improve, so all these help sharpen my skills.”

Meanwhile, Ling is relishing her return to the KLPGA Tour and the opportunity to compete against some of the world’s best competitors, albeit for just a one-off appearance.
Ling had previously earned a limited status to play on the KLPGA Tour in 2018 after winning the ‘Cinderella Story’ reality TV program.

Since turning professional in 2017, Ling, who has traversed various circuits, including the Ladies European Tour, Taiwan LPGA, China LPGA, and Women’s All Pro Tour in the United States, has gained extensive experience.

“I competed for a little bit on the KLPGA my first year as a pro in 2018 after winning the ‘Cinderella story’ hosted by Quad Sports, so I’ve experienced what it is like to compete against them and why they are so good,” said Ling.

“I’m grateful to the organisers for the invite slot because I love competing and so I cherish every opportunity I get to compete, especially when it’s against some of the best in the world!

“The last time I competed with these girls, I was a true rookie and it opened my eyes to what life on the professional tour would be like, so it’s great to get the opportunity to compete against them again five years later.

“Having travelled and played golf worldwide as well, I think I’d now be able to go into the week not as a wide-eyed rookie, so I’m hoping to come back with some good scores and a good result at the Singapore Women’s Open.”

The Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open is jointly sanctioned by the Singapore Golf Association (SGA) and Korean Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) and will form a part of the Ladies Asian Tour Series.

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