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Kim upbeat before Singapore title defence

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South Korea's Kim Hyo-joo struck an upbeat tone Tuesday as she gears up to defend her HSBC Women's World Championship title in Singapore in the face of stiff competition.

The 26-year-old staged a late fightback by overcoming a five-shot deficit to triumph in last year's tournament by one shot, snapping a five-year winless drought.

The event at the Sentosa Golf Club, from Thursday to Sunday, will be her first tournament since November when she finished tied 53rd in the CME Group Tour Championship.

But she sounded confident going into the competition.

"I practised on the front nine yesterday and the course conditions are great, similar to last year. I feel I'm ready to play well this week," she told a press conference.

"Before my victory last year, I was not feeling confident. But after winning the tournament, I could feel that my confidence was returning. I'm so happy to be back at this golf course, and I want to do well again."

Among her rivals is New Zealand's Lydia Ko, who is chasing her first win at the Singapore tournament after coming close on several occasions, including a second-place finish in 2015.

The former world number one is on good form, having won her 17th LPGA title at Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio in January.

"I play my best golf when I'm enjoying my time out there and being relaxed. Keeping that kind of mindset and just focusing on that one shot in front of me allows me to play the best golf I can," said Ko.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Park In-bee will be chasing her third win at the competition, having triumphed in 2015 and 2017.

While familiarity with the course might give the 33-year-old an advantage, she is wary of the challenges posed by her younger rivals.

"Sentosa is one of the golf courses where I can play well as it really suits my game. But the younger girls are hitting so much further than me now. It's the tough truth, and I have to accept it," she said.

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