ALL HUDDLED TOGETHER AFTER A GREAT DAY
Torrential rain did nothing to dampen the excitement on the second day of the HSBC Women’s World Championship at the Sentosa GC in Singapore. First, Danielle Kang, the Korean-American who won the 2017 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, attacked the Tanjong course with five birdies outward bound on her way to a record-equalling 63 and a 10-under tally for the tournament.
Next to keep the crowd wide-eyed was Elizabeth Szokol, the unsung first round leader. She clung to Kang across the first 10 holes and, throughout that time, her speedy pace of play seemed to be keeping nerves at bay. The odd mistake followed but, to her credit, the 28-year-old added a 71 to her opening 64 to finish her day just one behind Kang and level with Allisen Corpuz and Hyo Joo Kim. That Asheigh Buhai, Linn Grant and Nelly Korda are on eight under suggests that a thriller of a weekend is in store.
Yet there was so much more to today, what with Patty Tavatanakit, from neighbouring Thailand, promising a return to her form of ‘21 with a breathtaking six birdies early on in what was, in the circumstances, a slightly anticlimactic 70.
Ten years or so ago, there were no Thais on the LPGA tour, but look at them now… Ariya Jutanugarn, though she has been struggling of late, has won two majors to Tavatanakit’s one, while Atthaya Thitikul, who first played in the HSBC Women’s World Championship as a 15-year-old amateur, is currently lying fourth on the Rolex World Rankings.
There was no-one of an appropriate age around to confirm that the last time Singapore had as wet a spell as this was 100 years ago. However, the weather eventually did the decent thing today in allowing the entire field just enough time to complete their second rounds.
At 11.20, a deluge stopped play and they had returned to the clubhouse for what would be three and a half hours. Three and a half hours in which they spent their time wondering if they were done for the day of if they would at some point be getting back to business.
Otters, herons and green-keepers made for riveting watching in the interim, with the otters cavorting in the bunkers and the green keepers doing what they had to do to keep the course playable. No-wonder they are a proud corps at Sentosa, for theirs is the first club in the world to have become carbon neutral. A truly magnificent feat when you consider how so many courses are still anything but.
Back to Danielle Kang and how she currently has a new best friend in the shape of a Scotty Cameron putter in which she had a substantial input to the design. She spent seven hours working alongside the putting maestro and my how proud she is with the result. “Thank you Mr Scotty,” she said by way of a sign-off note to her post-round interview.
A year ago in Singapore, Kang talked about the hard work she had put in both on her golf and her mental approach. Today, for sure, this once temperamental player kept a smile on her face and, should she go on to win, it is unlikely to go a-missing.
David Leadbetter, who used to work with her, once compared her to another of her pupils – namely Nick Faldo. Both could be difficult, each worked as hard as the other, and both were endlessly talented.