Zeng toast of Guangdong after Women's Open triumph
Zeng Liqi captured the fourth China LPGA Tour title of her young career on Friday as the Nanchang teenager won the Golf Liquor Guangdong Women's Open in dominant fashion by a three-stroke margin.
The 17-year-old closed with a 5-under-par 67 over the Zhuhai Lakewood Golf Club composite course to finish on 9-under 207 for her second victory of the year. The win was worth 30,000 yuan (US$4,128).
Thailand's Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong (69) finished runner-up, one shot ahead of compatriot Kusuma Meechai (70). China's Cao Xinyu (70) and Zhang Yahui (73) were the top amateurs in equal fourth at seven strokes back.
Zeng, winner of last month's Beijing Women's Challenge, started the day with a one-stroke lead and hung on in a tournament where she never trailed throughout the 54-hole event. Her final round featured six birdies, including two over the final two holes, and a lone dropped shot at the 16th hole where she suffered her sixth three-putt bogey of the week.
"I played an easy game and felt no pressure until the 15th hole where Sherman made a great birdie. I could hardly control the fluctuation going on in my mind at the time. At the 16th hole, I made another three putts for a bogey from 20 feet. But I didn't allow victory to slip from my grasp," said Zeng, who becomes the youngest player in CLPGA Tour history to achieve four wins at 17 years, one month and seven days.
"At the 17th hole, I made a six-footer for birdie after Sherman made a fantastic birdie putt from 15 feet. Another important shot of the day was my approach against the wind at the last. I hit an amazing shot to 10 feet of the pin from 199 yards with a four-iron. I knew that Sherman hit over the green and couldn't make a birdie. I told my caddie that I just needed two putts for a par. To my surprise, I made that birdie putt, again. An incredible win."
After five birdies and a lone bogey through 17 holes, Sherman got to within a stroke of Zeng going into the final hole but could not capitalize, closing with a bogey five.
"Actually, I did not even know that I was close to the champion. She (Zeng) just played so good. I just enjoyed watching her play, too," said the Bueng Kan native, who did enough to maintain her position atop the CLPGA Tour Order of Merit.
"The last hole I tried to go for the pin but the wind was not helping me. I knew if I make double I still make second, so I just went for it with a five-wood against a strong wind."
Cao, a 16-year-old from Shanghai, picked up her third low amateur honor of the year, closing with a round featuring four birdies and two bogeys.
"I had high fever and played less golf coming into this week, therefore I didn't have high expectations. In fact, I was worried a little more about my game. I am glad to have had another good week. This result is satisfying," said the teenager, currently 208th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
"I have finished three times in the top five this year, which has made me more confident. The next step may be a win on the tour."
Ni Zixin, the 15-year-old amateur who won last year's tournament, closed with a 2-under 70 for her best round of the week in equal eighth, 10 shots back of Zeng's winning score.