Sung-Hyun
Sung-Hyun

Seoul: Leading professional golfers will return to competitive action for the first time in months after the coronavirus shutdown when three of the world's top 10 women tee off in South Korea on Thursday.

The domestic showpiece KLPGA Championship will follow the country's football and baseball leagues in starting behind closed doors at the Lakewood Country Club in Yangju, northeast of Seoul.

World number three Park Sung-hyun, sixth-ranked Kim Sei-young and number 10 Lee Jeong-eun will be in a 150-strong field chasing the $180,000 winner's cheque from a tournament purse of $2.5 million, the highest in the event's 42-year history.

South Korea, which endured one of the worst early outbreaks of the disease outside mainland China, has brought COVID-19 under control with a widespread "trace, test and treat" programme, and has begun to resume professional sport.

South Korean players dominate women's golf and the US-based LPGA Tour, with three golfers ranked in the world's top six and eight players in the top 20. Two-time major-winner Park, Kim, a nine-time winner on the LPGA Tour, and current US Open champion Lee were already back home in the country when the virus lockdown began.

They had returned after the LPGA season was suspended in February because of the pandemic following the Australian Open, which was won by another Korean, the world number 11 Park In-bee.

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