New Taipei City, Taiwan: Hou Yu-sang earned her first win against a pro field as the Chinese Taipei amateur claimed the CTBC Ladies Open by two strokes at Linkou International Golf & Country Club.
Going into the final round with a one-stroke lead, the 20-year-old overcame strong winds, nerves and a triple-bogey to close with a final round 74. The University of Arizona junior finished on one-under 215, the only player in the field to break par at the RMB1.12 million tournament.
Fellow islander Tsai Pei-ying was second. The veteran signed off with a three-over 75 and was awarded the RMB225,000 winner’s purse owing to Hou’s amateur status.
New Zealand’s Song Han-ee shot a tournament low six-under 66 to finish equal third on 220 with Chinese Taipei’s Hsieh Yu-ling (74) and Thai Titiya Plucksataporn (76).
Pan Yanhong was the top China mainland player although the Hebei native struggled to a final round 78 to finish eighth, seven strokes off the pace.
Hou, who at one time held a five-stroke lead, got off to a strong start when she made consecutive birdies from the second hole. After a bogey five at the 410-yard seventh hole, she carded a triple-bogey seven at the 425-yard ninth. Playing partner Tsai then answered with birdies at the ninth and 10th holes to tie for the lead at one-under.
As Tsai would then stumble to consecutive bogeys starting at the 13th hole, Hou continued to par every hole on the Linkou International back nine to seal the win.
With the victory, Hou and her younger sister, Hou Yu-chiang, became the first amateur siblings to each win titles against pro fields. Yu-chiang, a three-time winner against the pros, closed with a 77 to tie for 17th, 12 strokes behind her elder sister.
“I am happy to end this summer vacation with this win. I am still two wins behind my younger sister and will keep on working. Two years ago, I led by as many as seven shots in the final round at the Royal Open but I collapsed and shot a 76. I learned a lot from that. This is the first time that I led in the final round in a pro event since then,” said Hou Yu-sang, who received a hug from her sister on the 18th green.
“At the ninth hole, I hit trees three times and made a triple-bogey. After that I felt very tight and nervous on the back nine.”
Hou, who plans to remain an amateur for at least one more year, said with the wind picking up on the back nine the conditions became tougher. “I knew if kept a steady game I still had a chance. I hit many solid putts down the stretch,” she said.
Tsai, whose erratic round included seven bogeys and four birdies, had nothing but praise for Hou and urged the young amateur to turn pro as quickly as possible. She also thanked her for the fact that she is an amateur, allowing Tsai to receive the winner’s purse.