Ko, Jutanugarn continue POY battle in Malaysia


The LPGA has set up in shop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, this week for the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

Defending champion Jessica Korda of the United States heads the field of 78 that will tee it up at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club's East Course on Thursday. It's the second week in succession the club is hosting a professional event; the PGA Tour staged a tournament on the club's West Course last week.

Korda is coming off a second-place finish last week in China. It was her first top-10 finish since May.

"It was really nice to be in contention again," she said. "Things are starting to slowly fall together. I changed coaches last year and been going through some changes and finally I'm seeing some putts drop, which I haven't for most of this year. So I'm really excited to get this week started."

Korda's challengers will include Lydia Ko (New Zealand) and Ariya Jutanugarn (Thailand), who are ranked first and second in the world, respectively, and are staging a spirited quest for LPGA Player of the Year honors.

Shanshan Feng of China, who won this event two years ago, is on hand, as is Na Yeon Choi, who won here in 2011.

There are nine Malaysian players in the field of 78, among them Kelly Tan, who represented her homeland in the 2016 Olympic Games and finished 51st. The 22-year old is in her third season on the LPGA tour. Her best finish this year is a tie for 16th at the Coates Championship in February.

"I had a good start of the season this year," she said. "Really happy with where I was going, but the last two months have been a little tough but there's a lot of events coming and I'm just trying to cope with the travel. But so far, I'm pretty happy with what I've done this year, and super excited for next year. I'm just going to keep working on the same stuff."

The golf course will play to 6,260 yards with a par of 71.