Korda, Kang hoping their generation can spark revival

AMERICAN golfer Jessica Korda knows what life is like at the top - after all she used to be No. 1 in the Amateur World Rankings. But the 20-year-old is the first to admit that life is very different in the big leagues.

Since turning pro in 2011, the Florida-native only has two wins under her belt - the 2012 Australian Open, and last month's Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.

Like many promising young Americans who make the step up to the professional circuit, Korda has struggled to adapt, especially when up against the mighty Korean brigade.

"A lot of American girls go to college first, while a lot of Koreans turn pro at a young age," said Korda, who is in town for this week's HSBC Women's Champions tournament.

"Those couple of years definitely help them."

Korean golfers have dominated the LPGA in recent years, with players like Park In Bee and Shin Ji Yai shining at the sport's pinnacle. 

In contrast, Stacy Lewis' four-week reign as world No. 1 last year is the longest any American has held top-spot since the world rankings were introduced in 2006. 

But Korda, who turns 21 tomorrow and is the third-youngest player in the women's top 25, believes that the future is bright for her country.

"We've got a lot of great young players out there," she said.

"Hopefully the US can come out tops. We'll see what the next couple of years bring."

One such golfer is Alison Lee, 18. She sits at the top of the amateur rankings, and won the Rolex Girls Junior Championship last year, joining an illustrious alumni which include world No. 1 Park and world No. 11 Paula Creamer. 

Equally hopeful of an upturn in the fortunes of US women's golf is compatriot Danielle Kang.

Said Kang, 21: "We have all these younger players coming out of nowhere. They're so good, even though they are 12 or 13."

Like Korda, Kang has also endured a rough ride since turning pro in 2011, and has yet to win on the LPGA tour.

She was not helped by a miserable 2013 when her father - who doubled as her caddie - was diagnosed with cancer and died in November.

As tears welled up in her eyes, Kang said: "The past year has been difficult. It was hard for me to play golf, but what I went through made me stronger."

The duo were speaking on the sidelines of a meet-and-greet session with six fans at Sentosa's Palawan beach, courtesy of golf equipment maker TaylorMade. Besides a question-and-answer session, they also played a game of golf with the fans.

Both said they are ready for the HSBC Woman's Champions, which begins tomorrow.

Kang, who finished fifth last year, declared: "I feel really good coming into this. I've worked out my putting, and I'm aiming to do better this year."

Korda, who is taking part for the third time, said: "I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to win."

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