Zhuhai, China: Big-hitting Chonlada Chayanun emerged from a five-player play-off to claim victory in the Hengqing Phoenix Tree Building Orient Golf Challenge, her first triumph as a professional.
Chonlada fired a closing 69 to end the regulation 54 holes on five-under 211, tied at the top of the leaderboard with fellow-Thai Wanchana Poruangrong (70), Korean Seo Ji-hyun (68) and China’s Sui Xiang (71) and Liu Ying (66).
A birdie at the first hole of sudden-death was good enough for Chonlada to lift the trophy in the China LPGA Tour event over the Phoenix Tree Orient Golf Club course in southern Guangdong Province.
“I can’t express how happy I am. I put in a lot of hard work and it paid off,” said 25-year-old Chonlada, a third-year pro from Nakhon Ratchasima Province in northeast Thailand, who earned RMB75,000 for the win.
“This is my first play-off since I turned pro. I was a little nervous when I stood on the 18th tee. I tried to calm myself down and focus on what I was doing.”
Starting the day four strokes off the lead, Chonlada went to work with birdies at the second and seventh holes before dropping a stroke at the ninth to make the turn at three-under. The Iowa State graduate then reeled off consecutive birdies at 12 and 13 before making bogey at 14. She needed a birdie at the last hole to secure her place in the play-off.
In the play-off, Chonlada opted to use her three-wood off the tee at the narrow par-four, 329-yard 18th hole, featuring water on the left and trees on the right. Her ball found the fairway, 90 yards short of the green. With a strong wind in her face, she produced a sweetly-struck pitching wedge, landing her ball six feet from the pin. While her playing partners Sui and Lui made their pars, Chonlada rolled home her birdie attempt.
The Thai then had to wait to see if further holes would be required. But Seo and Wanchana, playing in the group behind, could only muster pars.
Thai Pavarisa Yoktuan shot a tournament-low seven-under 65 to finish equal sixth with compatriot Wannasiri Sirisampant (70) on four-under 212.
Hwang Ye-nah, the overnight leader from Korea, ballooned to a three-over 75 to finish in equal eighth with Thai Renuka Suksukont (70).
Prima Thammaraks, the first round co-leader from Thailand, closed with a 73 to finish equal 10th, while China’s Shi Yuting struggled to a 75 to sit a shot further back. Zhao Zhimeng (71) was the leading amateur. The Shenzhen teenager finished on one-under 215 in equal 13th place.