The Aramco Team Series may be part of the Ladies European Tour but it has a track record of attracting some of the leading lights from the US, and they don’t come much brighter than Lilia Vu and Rose Zhang, two of the highest-ranked players in the Hong Kong field this week.
Vu has had a phenomenal year, rising to the top of the Rolex Rankings on the back of not one but two major victories in 2023, at the Chevron Championship in April and then two months ago at the Women’s Open at Walton Heath, where she won by six shots.
The 25-year-old from California, who also won the Honda LPGA Thailand in February, has the chance to add another title to that list at Hong Kong Golf Club, which will be staging the penultimate Aramco Team Series event of the year from Friday.
This will be Vu’s first outing in the $5m series, in which players compete both individually and as teams of four in a strokeplay format. It will be her second consecutive event involving a team format, having made her Solheim Cup debut for the US in Spain last month.
Finca Cortesin proved a Solheim Cup baptism of fire for Vu. Having lost her three matches on the first two days, she battled gamely to win her singles match 4&3 against Madelene Sagstrom on the Sunday but it proved in vain as Europe secured a 14-14 draw to retain the trophy.
This week in Hong Kong she will again come up against European hero Carlota Ciganda, whose singles win over Nelly Korda secured the decisive point. The Spaniard was also part of pairings who defeated Vu in both foursomes and fourball formats.
“I am thrilled to be part of the Aramco Team Series Hong Kong and have the chance to compete in Asia again,” she said.
“The Aramco Team Series has a strong reputation amongst the players with the unique team format and major-like staging, both of which I’m looking forward to. I’m excited to compete alongside some of the world’s best in Hong Kong, and I hope to add to my victories in 2023.”
Zhang also sampled the Solheim Cup for the first time last month and the 20-year-old rising star of the LPGA Tour will be looking to bounce back when she makes her Aramco Team Series debut over the next few days.
The former world amateur No1 caused a sensation when winning her first tournament after turning professional, at the Mizuho Americas Open in June. Since then she has achieved top-10 finishes at three out of four majors, albeit her sky-high standards have dipped lately.
Zhang missed the cut at her last event and finished outside the top 40 in the two before that. On her Solheim Cup bow she managed just half a point from three matches, losing her singles match to Leona Maguire 4&3. But the world No33 is nonetheless one of the star turns this week
“I’m delighted to be part of the Aramco Team Series Hong Kong,” she said. “It’s an incredible opportunity to be part of such an exciting world-class event, and I’m eager to take on some of the world’s best on this fantastic stage in Hong Kong.”
If the presence in the field of Solheim Cup nemesis Ciganda unnerves Vu and Zhang, then they may also be unhappy to cross swords again with her European colleague Caroline Hedwall after the Swede’s crucial cameo in Spain.
A long-shot captain’s pick, Hedwall justified her call-up with a stunning recovery from three down through 12 to win two up against Ally Ewing and deny the USA victory. If this week provides even half of that drama it will be one not to miss.