Flawless Zhang Overturns Overnight Deficit

Zhang Weiwei celebrates her success in Beijing.

Beijing, China: Zhang Weiwei captured her second China LPGA Tour victory when the Hubei native closed with a flawless seven-under-par 65 to win the Le Coq Sportif Beijing Ladies Classic by three strokes.

With an overnight thunderstorm and rain delaying the final group’s tee-time by almost three hours in the Chinese capital, Zhang picked an ideal time to shoot her best round of the week in finishing on 14-under 202 at Beijing Orient Pearl Country Club. The victory was worth RMB120,000.

Overnight leader Du Mohan (70) made a birdie on the last hole to finish alone in second place with fellow Chinese Pan Yanhong (69) a further stroke back in third. Thai Chonlada Chayanun (66) and China’s Liu Yiyi (68) were six shots off the pace in equal fourth.

As the sun came out during her round, Zhang, a winner in Zhuhai in 2017, picked up a shot on the par-five opening hole. It was the first of seven birdies as she cruised to a fourth consecutive top-10 finish this season.

“If I passed through the US Women’s Open sectional qualifying [earlier this month] I wouldn’t have been here. Instead I would have gone to the USA,” said the 22-year-old.

Du, who held a two-shot lead going into the final day, found trouble early when her second on the 552-yard fourth hole went into the woods and she lost her ball. It proved the turning point as the Beijing teenager signed for a double-bogey seven while Zhang, who missed a six-foot putt for eagle, made birdie on the hole.

“It was just a bad swing. It’s not about my strategy. I hit a three-wood for the past two days. I didn’t make any mistakes after that,” said the 17-year-old, who also led in Hong Kong two weeks ago through 36 holes.

“Zhang Weiwei earned it. She made all putts within 10 feet while I didn’t. That’s the difference between her and me. I believe I can get my first pro win in the next three weeks.”

Pan, who is back playing competitively after taking time off to have a child last year, was delighted with her bogey-free round and best finish of the season.

“I am pleased to feel the heat again,” said the Hebei native, a five-time winner on the China LPGA Tour. “I was in the final group, which is what you want. I had some birdie chances which I didn’t take advantage of.”

Chonlada, equal ninth in Hong Kong two weeks ago, also put together her best result of the year. The fourth-year pro’s round featured seven birdies, five of them on the back nine, and a lone bogey.

China’s Cai Danlin and Chinese Taipei’s Hou Yu-chiang were the top amateurs. The teenagers both closed with even-par 72s to finish four-under in equal eighth, among a group of six players that included two-time defending champion Shi Yuting (69).

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