Hinako Shibuno, who won the hearts of golf fans with her remarkable triumph at Woburn last year, has confirmed she will defend her AIG Women’s Open title at Royal Troon.
Shibuno, who has risen to world number 12 in the Rolex Rankings, won the 2019 Championship on her international golfing debut, having never previously played a tournament outside of Japan.
‘The Smiling Cinderella’ captured the hearts and minds of spectators and millions of viewers around the world as she smiled and high-fived her way to a winning total of 18 under par, sealing victory with a dramatic 18-foot putt on the final hole.
The 21-year-old said: “I am so glad to be able to defend my title at the AIG Women’s Open. I think it will be a very special feeling to return as the defending champion and I am looking forward to the experience very much.
“I am excited to play at Royal Troon where so many Open Championships have been held and I hope my game will match up to the challenges presented by this famous links course.”
“I think it will be a very special feeling to return as the defending champion.” Hinako Shibuno
Shibuno will be joined by a host of fellow major-winners at the Ayrshire links, as well as several Solheim Cup stars and home favourites. You can view the latest field here.
Inbee Park, the 2015 Champion, has already tasted success on a Scottish links course and will be aiming to add to her haul of seven major titles at Troon.
Park, a winner of 20 LPGA titles, said: “I absolutely love playing in the UK at the AIG Women’s Open and the last time we played on the west coast of Scotland at Turnberry was when I managed to win.
“With so much uncertainty surrounding our schedule recently due to the coronavirus, I felt so happy when I finally heard the news that the championship was going ahead.
“AIG’s extension to their partnership is also a strong commitment to women’s golf in these difficult times.”
The AIG Women’s Open is set to make its debut on the prestigious links of Royal Troon, which has hosted The Open on nine occasions and most recently in 2016 when Sweden’s Henrik Stenson triumphed.
Troon has also hosted The Senior Open Championship presented by Rolex, The Amateur Championship, the Women’s Amateur Championship, The Home Internationals and the Scottish Men’s and Women’s Amateur Championship.