Yin's PGA Championship win provides major motivation
The excitement among the field getting ready for this week's Golf Liquor Guangdong Women's Open was noticeable on Tuesday in the wake of China LPGA alumni Yin Ruoning's win at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.
On Sunday, the 20-year-old Shanghai native, a three-time winner on the CLPGA Tour in 2020, became the second Chinese woman after Feng Shanshan to win a major title on the US LPGA Tour. The victory was her second of the year following her Dio Implant LA Open win in March.
Zeng Liqi, winner of last month's Beijing Women's Challenge, called Yin's performance fantastic and inspiration for all Chinese. The 17-year-old, a three-time winner on the CLPGA Tour, plans to attend the LPGA Tour Qualifying School later this year.
"Yin's victory gives us hope and motivation. We aren't so close to US LPGA players now, but with a lot of hard work we can catch up with them one day. They aren't beyond our reach," said the Nanchang native following her practice round at Zhuhai Lakewood Golf Club in Zhuhai.
"Yin Xiaowen (another three-time winner on the CLPGA Tour) is also inspiring us to pursue our dreams in the United States. She won twice on the (development) Epson Tour last year to earn her LPGA Tour card for this season. We might follow in her footsteps from the CLPGA to Epson Tour then to the US LPGA Tour."
Sun Jiaze, who was awarded the first-place prize money at last year's Golf Liquor Challenge won by 14-year-old amateur Ni Zixin in Shandong Province, said she had played with Yin Ruoning for many years while growing up as they are only a year apart in age.
"I captured a lot of titles in junior events with her in the same field. Her major victory is truly motivating because she is playing awesome and did what not many players could do. Her mental game is her strength. She is decisive and won't shrink from a fight. My mental game is also strong. I always have fun and try to think positively."
Sun, who is currently recovering from a knee injury, said that playing at the Greg Norman-designed Lakewood club put her in a positive mood as it was here that she won her first professional tournament, the CTBC Ladies Classic last September.
"I am just returning to my old self. Last week I seemed to find my old form with a 6-under-par round in Chongqing (at a National Golf Championship event). I am looking forward to this golf course where I have plenty of good memories from my first pro win last year," said the 21-year-old Beijing native.
Zeng, who won twice last year as a rookie pro to top the Order of Merit, said she had always found the par-72, 6,357-yard course difficult with its hilly layout, abundant bunkering, water and ever-present wind coming off the South China Sea.
"This year is no exception. Many of the tee boxes have been pushed back, which makes it long and tough. In this practice round I just hit three or four times with a driver, which shows how tough it could be. The fairways are narrow, lined with many hazards. There are many shelves on the slopey greens, too. The scores could be interesting and full of possibilities," said the teenager.
"Hopefully I can play to my strength. No one wants to miss the winning chance, if any. But you just have to be in control of your game."