Zhuhai, China: Thai Yupaporn Kawinpakorn claimed her first China title at the CLPGA Zhuhai Heritage in Guangdong Province.
The second-year pro from Samut Prakan Province closed with a one-over-par 73 at the Colin Montgomerie-designed Zhuhai Golden Gulf Golf Club layout.
With a 54-hole aggregate of even-par 216, Yupaporn finished two shots clear of second-placed Chinese amateur Dong Linyu.
Saranporn Langkulgasettrin, the China LPGA Tour Order of Merit leader, was equal third on 220 after closing with a 73, tied with fellow-Thai Mookharin Ladgratok (72), Malaysian Aretha Pan (74) and Chinese amateur Yin Ruoning (72) and Shanghai’s Li Xiya (73).
Yupaporn, who went into the final round with a two-shot lead, did just enough to maintain her cushion throughout the day and walk off with the first-place cheque for RMB30,000. Her round included five birdies, three bogeys and two double-bogeys.
“It’s so great to get my first CLPGA Tour win. This is my first year playing here and I’ve missed four successive cuts. I was struggling with my ball striking and I couldn’t help hitting the ball into the hazard. Now I have got everything together. It’s come along pretty good,” said the 26-year-old, a college standout at Kansas University.
“I spent a lot of time looking at what I could have done better with all the cuts I missed. I went back to the problems. I talked to my coach and kept believing in myself. If I have won tournaments before I think I can do it again,” said Yupaporn, who was celebrating her sixth win as a pro and second this year.
In January, she won an event on the Ladies Philippines Golf Tour, while last year she won four times on the National Women’s Golf Association Tour, a feeder circuit in Florida.
Dong, who has committed to play for Texas Tech University this fall, started the day three shots off the pace but never mounted a serious challenge. Her round included two birdies, two bogeys and nine straight pars over the Golden Gulf back nine.
For her efforts in her first pro tournament she won three prizes as runner-up, best amateur and top Chinese player.
“My goal was to win the best amateur. I haven’t imagined to be second. The result is much better than I expected,” said the 19-year-old. “I learned a lot from these three days. I will practice more on my short irons.”
Defending champion Saranporn could not shake off the effects of jet-lag after competing in last week’s US Women’s Open and enduring a marathon flight to get here.
The Phuket native put her performance down to feeling sick in the practice round for the US Women’s Open, something she had been battling ever since.
“It was because of the food there. I was not used to the fast food. Even the rice was not the same as in Asia. In the final round in the US Women’s Open I was too tired and felt sick,” said Saranporn who has won twice this year in China. “After the 54-hour trip (to Guangdong) I was too tired. I just want to have a rest and fix my body.”