Zhuhai, China: Chinese teenager Du Mohan conjured a miraculous finish to capture her first professional victory at the Golf Liquor Zhuhai Golden Gulf Challenge.
Putting aside recent near-misses, Du snared birdies putts on the final two greens at Guangdong Province’s Zhuhai Golden Gulf Golf Club to eke out a two-stroke triumph.
The 17-year-old from Beijing, who was the 36-hole leader at the past two China LPGA Tour events, closed with a two-under 70 to finish on nine-under 207. The victory was worth RMB30,000.
Zhang Weiwei, the winner in Beijing last week, was second after a 72. Defending champion Yupaporn Kawinpakorn closed with a 68 to finish three shots back in equal third alongside fellow-Thai Thanutra Boonraksasat (69) and Japan’s Nao Honda, the leader through the first two rounds, who ballooned to a 75.
Du, who started the day two strokes behind Honda, dropped a shot on the first hole when she made a bogey-five. She rebounded with consecutive birdies at the second and third. In total, her round featured six birdies against four bogeys.
With Zhang holding a one-shot lead through 16 holes, Du’s drive at the par-five 17 landed in a fairway bunker. But she recovered to reach the green in three and convert a 12-foot birdie putt to draw even.
At the 366-yard last, Zhang had a chance for an up-and-down and potentially force a play-off. Du, however, ended any suspense when she sank a 25-foot birdie putt for the win.
“I saw the pin on the left at the 18th hole. I knew the wind was blowing to the left so I hit a smart shot into the middle of the green and left a 25-foot putt. That birdie putt was a miracle. It’s unreal,” said Du.
With her success, Du made it four straight wins for Chinese players, a feat that has not been achieved on the China LPGA Tour since 2012. In five starts this year, she has finished no worse than equal fourth.
“Everything is the best arrangement. I felt super peaceful, even with this first pro win. Such a peaceful mind was beyond my imagination. After so many things that happened to me, I can accept my destiny, win or lose,” said Du, who blew a five-shot lead in Hong Kong and a two-shot lead in Beijing – the last two tournaments.
“What has happened to me was a precious lesson. I never thought whether it was fair or not. I just learned what I need to work on. I am grateful to all the things that happened to me. The final two holes were a big encouragement. I had confidence that I could win either of next two events. I want to be in contention again and feel the heat.”
Zhang, who saw her three birdies on the front nine wiped out by three bogeys on the back nine, lamented too many mistakes down the stretch when the wind picked up.
“She [Du] deserves this win. She was close so many times,” said the 22-year-old Hubei native. “But you know I could’ve won this. If she missed the putt (on 18), I believe that I could make the par putt and force the play-off. Who knows? You should watch the positive side. This event proved that I need to work on my game in the wind. Mohan played great in windy days.”
Cai Danlin was the top amateur, the Hainan teenager closing with a 71 to finish equal 18th at even-par for the week.