Tieling, China: Luo Ying survived an erratic back nine to claim her first professional title with a two-shot victory at the China LPGA Tour Tieling Longshan Golf Challenge in Liaoning Province.
Two days after celebrating her 25th birthday, Luo closed with a 76 for a 54-hole score of six-over 222. The Shenzhen native’s first China LPGA Tour win was worth RMB75,000.
Chinese amateur Cai Danlin carded a 73 at the Tieling Longshan International Golf Club for her best round of the week to finish equal runner-up with compatriot Liu Yan (77) at the RMB500,000 tournament.
Sui Xiang (76) was fourth at three shots back, one stroke ahead of Wang Tianyu (74) as Chinese players occupied the top five spots on the leaderboard.
With a one-shot lead going into the final round, Luo, who turned pro in 2016 after a standout college career at the University of Washington, made birdie at the par-four seventh hole during a bogey-free front nine.
Her back nine over the mountainous layout, however, proved a different story. With the weather sunny and a slight breeze blowing, Luo could not take advantage of the relatively calm conditions as she registered three bogeys and a double-bogey over the next seven holes.
With her playing partners, Liu and Sui, unable to mount a challenge, Luo closed with par on the final two holes to secure the win.
“The key to this week is a steady game. I only had one double-bogey for the whole week. I made many par putts from three to six feet, including some tricky lines,” said Luo who posted the highest winning score of the China LPGA Tour season.
Luo, who had Yuan Yechun, winner of the recent Qingdao Championship on the PGA Tour Series-China, serving as her caddie, said she realised she had a chance to recover from her double-bogey six at the 13th when her main rival Liu hit out-of-bounds off the tee on the same hole and made a triple-bogey.
“I told myself to calm down after that. I think that I played steady for the rest of the round,” she said.
One stroke off the lead after her ‘disaster’ at 13, Liu said she still felt she had a chance to catch Luo. “I definitely felt a little bit disappointed,” said the 20-year-old from Fujian Province.