TIELING, China, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) — China’s Luo Ying did just enough to survive an erratic back nine on Friday to claim her first pro title with a two-shot victory at the CLPGA Tour Tieling Longshan Golf Challenge in Liaoning province.
Two days after celebrating her 25th birthday, Luo closed with a 76 for a 54-hole score of six-over 222. The Shenzhen native’s first China LPGA Tour win was worth 75,000 yuan (11,030 US dollars).
Chinese amateur Cai Danlin carded a 73 over the Tieling Longshan International Golf Club layout for her best round of the week to finish equal runner-up with compatriot Liu Yan (77) at 500,000 yuan (72,900 US dollars) tournament.
Sui Xiang (76) was fourth at three shots back, one stroke ahead of Wang Tianyu (74) as Chinese players occupied the top-five spots on the leaderboard.
With a one shot lead going into the final round, Luo, who turned pro in 2016 after a standout college career at the University of Washington, got to one-over when she made birdie at the par-four seventh hole during a bogey-free front nine.
Her back nine over the mountainous Tieling Longshan layout, however, would prove a different story. With the weather sunny and just a slight breeze blowing, Luo could not take advantage of the relatively calm conditions as she registered three bogeys and a double bogey over the next seven holes. As her playing partners Liu and Sui could not mount a challenge, Luo closed with par on the final two holes to secure the win.
“The key to this week is a steady game. I only had one double bogey for the whole week. I made many par putts from three to six feet, including some tricky lines,” said Luo who posted the highest winning score of the CLPGA Tour season.
The Shenzhen native, who had Yuan Yechun, winner of the recent Qingdao Championship on the PGA Tour Series-China, serving as her caddy this week, said she realized she had a chance to recover from her double-bogey six at the 13th when her main rival Liu hit out-of-bounds off the tee on the same hole and made a triple bogey.
“I told myself that you should calm down after this. This is the past which you couldn’t change. I think that I played steady for the rest of the round.”
Sitting one stroke off of the lead after her “disaster” at the 13th hole where her putt also lipped out, Liu said she still felt she had a chance to catch playing partner Luo.
“I definitely felt a little bit disappointed, but you know this is the best performance when I started from the last group,” said the 20-year-old from Fujian province. “I played with a peaceful mind even with a triple bogey.”
Amateur Cai said she was totally focused on her game and wasn’t thinking about where she would finish in her round that included three birdies and four bogeys.
“But now, looking back, I should be regretful especially with the fact that I made three bogeys over the last four holes. Two bogeys should be avoidable,” said the Hainan-based teenager.
“I am still a long way from the first CLPGA win. While most of players didn’t play well, the golf course suited my game. It’s tight but I am solid striker.”
Asian Games bronze medalist Du Mohan closed with an even-par 72 to help the Chinese teenager to an equal sixth finish in her maiden pro tournament, tied with first round co-leader Tahnia Ravnjak (78) of Australia at seven strokes back.
Following are the leading scores (China unless stated, *denotes amateur):
222 – Luo Ying 76-70-76
224 – Cai Danlin* 76-75-73, Liu Yan 77-70-77
225 – Sui Xiang 80-69-76
226 – Wang Tianyu 77-75-74
229 – Du Mohan 79-78-72, Tahnia Ravnjak (Australia) 74-77-78
230 – Zhang Yunjie 78-76-76, Amelia Yong (Singapore) 80-72-78
231 – Punpaka Phuntumabamrung (Thailand) 80-74-77
232 – Ren Yue 78-78-76, Munchin Keh (New Zealand) 74-80-78
233 – Zhu Kailin 78-79-76, Zhang Jingwen 79-77-77, Zhou Jiayi 78-76-79
234 – Futaba Takimoto (Japan) 78-80-76,Qin Min 77-77-80
235 – Michelle Koh (Malaysia) 83-76-76, Wanchana Poruangrong (Thailand) 77-82-76, Song Yilin 77-81-77