Sun seizes control at CLPGA Tour finale in Zhuhai
Sun Jiaze put herself in contention to capture the China LPGA Tour Order of Merit on Thursday as the second-year pro carded a 2-under-par 70 at the Guowei Centre Plaza Zhuhai Challenge for a two-stroke lead through two rounds in Zhuhai, southern Guangdong Province.
With conditions sunny and windy at Zhuhai Orient Golf Club, Sun, a two-time winner on the CLPGA Tour this year, was on 1-under 143 through 36 holes. Fan Shuangshuang was second following a 69, a shot ahead of Wan Yuanyuan (72), Sui Xiang (73) and overnight leader Zhao Zhimeng (76).
As Zeng Liqi shot 7-over 79 to sit 14 shots back, the struggles of the current Order of Merit leader opened a window for several players to potentially claim the money title in the final tournament of the season.
Sun, currently third in the Order, has 143,000 yuan (US$20,478) in earnings this season, largely through her wins in Beijing and Zhuhai. By capturing this week's 75,000-yuan winner's purse, the 20-year-old could overtake Zeng, who has earned 183,275 yuan.
Her round today featured three birdies, including one at the 467-yard, par-5 last, and a bogey five at the sixth hole where her ball found the water.
"It's an incredible round where I hit a lot of shots exactly to the spots I had planned prior to my round. The highlight was the fifth hole where I made a 20-yard chip-in birdie from the rough," said Sun.
"Now, I am more mature. In August, I was not so calm and cool-minded before my first victory (in Zhuhai). After two wins, I can relax and stay cool for the final round. But this golf course is a real beast where there are so many possibilities. I will take it easy tomorrow."
Fan, currently second on the Order with 180,000 yuan in earnings, carded a bogey-free round featuring three birdies from putts ranging from 10 to 20 feet in the hunt for her first win as a pro.
"My long game was as solid as ever. I also hit some nice chips and good putts. The putting surprised me a lot. I made a couple of long putts for par. You can say it's an extraordinary score, which couldn't be repeatable in the final round. I wouldn't expect it tomorrow," said the 17-year-old rookie pro.
Wan, another rookie pro, was delighted to realize her goal of shooting an even-par round that featured three birdies, including one at the last, and three bogeys.
"I am happy to make it at the end of day, but you know I didn't expect such a high position going into the final round. I was out of the mix for the whole year," said the 19-year-old from Hebei Province. "I have played stress-free golf for two days. It might be the reason behind it. It should be the same mental game for me."
Wu Jiaxi was the top amateur as the teenager shot her second straight round of 77 to sit 13 strokes back.