Liu gets maiden win at Hong Kong Ladies Open

Liu Yan, 21, held steady down the stretch to close with a 68 for a three-round score of 7-under 209. Zhang Weiwei (71), Renuka Susukont (68) and Du Mohan (76) were one stroke back.
Liu gets maiden win at Hong Kong Ladies Open

China's Liu Yan poses with the trophy after winning the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open in China's Hong Kong on Sunday.

China’s Liu Yan captured the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open on Sunday for her first victory as a pro on a day when compatriot Du Mohan collapsed spectacularly at a tournament she had led from the outset.

The 21-year-old Liu held steady down the stretch to close with a 68 for a three-round score of 7-under-par 209. Hubei native Zhang Weiwei (71), Thailand’s Renuka Susukont (68) and Du, who blew up to a 76 after going into the day with a five-stroke lead, were one stroke back.

Liu, who started her day seven strokes off the lead, carded a round that included five birdies and a lone bogey over the Hong Kong Golf Club Old Course. She earned US$22,500 at the tournament tri-sanctioned by the China LPGA Tour, TLPGA and LAGT.

“I am speechless now. I am so happy and over the moon. I expected that I can have a 68. I played great for the past two days after bad starts. I didn’t expect Mohan to drop such a lot and that opened the door for all the players,” said Xiamen native.

“I didn’t make any birdies on the final two holes, even within 10 feet. I definitely could have had a better score. But I will take this.”

With two birdies and six bogeys in her round, a smiling Du said she did her best in her quest to win her maiden title as a pro. On the back nine, both Zhang and Renuka had got to within a stroke of Du’s lead but then dropped shots to fall back. Du then carded bogeys on three of the last four holes to fall behind Liu.

“I’m okay with it,” said the 17-year-old Du of her volatile finish after starting the tournament with consecutive rounds of 67. “I didn’t play the shots as expected, but I totally accept that and I did my best so no regrets.”

Du, who turned pro last year and will attend the US LPGA Tour qualifying school in December, added she was happy she got this far as it was the first time she had played in the final group as the tournament leader.

“Definitely a little bit pity but I will come back next year. There’s a long way to go at my age so I totally accept that and will keep on going.”

After posting eight birdies in her round, including four consecutive starting from the fifth hole, Renuka looked ready to catch Du until a double-bogey six at the 15th hole and a bogey at the 17th proved her undoing. She closed with a birdie three.

The Phathum Thani native, a two-time winner on the CLPGA Tour, needed just nine putts over the front nine to make the turn at 5-under 30.

 “Yeah, I’m disappointed. I was (equal) runner-up here two years ago. But I never think that I will win because she (Du) was 10-under after two rounds. So I didn’t think that I could make it. I just try to do my best.”

Tiffany Chan, the US LPGA Tour regular from China's Hong Kong, was equal fifth after improving to a 69, tied with Thai Kanyalak Preedasuttjit (71), Chinese Taipei’s Huang Ching (71) and China's Ren Yue (72) at three shots off the pace.

Hou Yu-chiang was the top amateur as the Chinese Taipei teenager closed with a 74 to finish equal 18th, seven shots back. The 18-year-old has committed to play for the University of Arizona.

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