At the end of the 67 which took her to the top of the leaderboard on the first day of the HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa, Patty Tavatanakit explained that it had a lot to do with “finding my inner peace”.

For those who stray further and further from that happy state during the course of 18 holes, the Thai player explained how she does it: “It’s about being grateful for having a job that I like.” She even mentioned the extensive travel which, during the course of the pandemic, has involved any amount of form-filling and daily tests. However, you would have to think that all that eventually becomes no different to one more practice routine for these hard-working and conscientious golfers.


Patty Tavatanakit (Photo credit: Getty Image)

On a day when the cream rose to the top straightaway, the 22-year-old Tavatanakit, who won last year’s ANA Inspiration in what was her rookie season on the LPGA Tour, signed off one ahead of Inbee Park, Danielle Kang and AL Kim. Though Kim did not put a foot wrong all day, having four birdies outward bound and matching par at every hole on the way in, Kang and Park shared a few mishaps at the end. Kang closed bogey, bogey, while Park overshot the last green and had what is a rare experience for her in taking three to get down.

Not, mind you, that it worried her overmuch. A two-time winner in Singapore, Park said, delightedly, that for 17 holes she had played “almost perfect”. Then, when she was asked how she was still driven after being on tour since 2006, this seven-time major champion put it down to the fact that she felt she could still win – and that Sentosa was one of those courses where this applied as much as any.

When the 33-year-old added that the number of courses where the long hitters had ever more of an advantage over her was increasing all the time, she was clearly thinking of such as Tavatanakit whose average drives, not so long ago, were given as 326 yards.

Where Park scores is with her unerring accuracy with the irons and on the greens.

Only this week, it was interesting to hear Zane Scotland, the R&A’s new diversity ambassador, saying how his own attitude had changed across the years, and never more so than towards women golfers. As a regular commentator on Sky, he will often get asked which of the golfers does what best and, up until recently, he would reel off a list of men’s names. That was until someone asked what he thought of Inbee Park’s putting and, after going away and watching her, he very rapidly decreed that she was the best putter in the world. At her best, Park putts with her left hand below right, as applies with many of the best golfers nowadays.

Trish Johnson, one of the commentators, remarked earlier today that people have stopped commenting on the variety of ways the top players hold their putters. Not too long ago, as she herself would have found, having a grip that departed from the conventional was enough to have the old-style selectors ruling out a player from their latest team.
Sentosa, as always, was looking quite stunning. It also remains a runaway winner on the ecology front where, apart from anything else, they are playing their part in hosting 20 plus bee hives in their bid to save the bee population.

The bees, who are of the non-buzzing variety, do not disturb the more sensitive members of the golfing fraternity, while ants and other such pests are not allowed to disturb them. Fair enough.