Haikou, China: Korean Park Sung-hyun underlined her reputation as one of golf’s rising female stars with a memorable wire-to-wire victory in the 10th Hyundai China Ladies Open at Mission Hills.
Producing an irresistible late charge, the 22-year-old Seoul native snared birdies at five of the final six holes on the award-winning Blackstone Course in Haikou.
In so doing she not only repelled the challenges of her illustrious compatriots Kim Joo-hyo and Chun In-gee but also ensured Korea’s domination of the US$550,000 event continued.
Koreans have now won all 10 editions of the tournament that is sanctioned by the Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association [KLPGA], the China Ladies Professional Golf Association [CLPGA] and the China Golf Association.
Thanks to her blistering finish, Park signed off with a closing five-under-par 67 to go with earlier rounds of 64 and 68. She collected a cheque for US$110,000.
Her 54-hole aggregate of 17-under-par 199 was two shots clear of Kim, a two-time winner of the event and the defending champion.
Jang Su-yeon posted a third successive 68 to claim third spot while world number nine Chun, the top ranked player in the field, settled for fourth place on 205.
The leading non-Korean was Chinese Taipei’s Chen Meng-chu in a share of 10th place while Shi Yuting had the distinction of finishing as the leading Chinese in joint 13th on 211.
But it was Park who was the star of the show, displaying commendable cool to take first prize in the final event of the 2015 CLPGA season and the opening leg of the 2016 KLPGA Tour.
Park said: “This is a good start for the new season. I am happy to get my first win outside of my home country. The KLPGA money title has definitely come into my mind now. I’ll do my best next season to make it happen.”
Tenniel Chu, Mission Hills Group Vice Chairman, said: “We are honoured to have hosted the Hyundai China Ladies Open for the second year in succession. Our Blackstone Course provided a fitting test for participants and made for spectacular viewing for spectators at the course and those who tuned in to watch the action on television.”
Chu said Mission Hills will continue to place a strong emphasis on family and friendship and encourage greater participation by female and junior players.
Proving true to those words, one of the highlights of the Hyundai China Ladies Open week was the staging of a junior golfing clinic.
No fewer than 600 children participated in the clinic that followed Saturday’s second round with Korean Ahn Shin-ae among the five professionals who handed out tips and advice to the excited youngsters.