Xiamen, China: Lin Xiyu has created history by becoming the first mainland China player to win the country’s national championship – the Macalline Women’s China Open.
The US LPGA Tour regular closed with a round of even-par 72 at Orient Xiamen for a four-under 284 total and a two-stroke win. The victory for the 23-year-old, her seventh China LPGA title and first win since 2015, was worth RMB315,000.
Similar to the history of the US Open where it took 17 years for an American-born player to win the tournament – players from England, Scotland and Jersey won the first 16 years – Lin became the first mainland winner since the championship debuted in 2006. Players from South Korea dominated the Women’s China Open for the first 11 years, while Lee Min (75) of Chinese Taipei won last year.
“I am so proud that I can win my national Open in my home country, especially as I am only playing a couple of tournaments [in China] a year,” said the Guangdong native, who enjoyed a personal best season in the US where she made 19 of 23 cuts.
“The last two years, I’ve been through a really tough time. I lost my LPGA Tour card and my world ranking was probably the lowest ever. This has been a good year but I couldn’t think of a better result than winning a tournament to finish my season.”
Xiamen native Liu Yan finished runner-up for the second consecutive year when she closed with a 71. Feng Shanshan, the world number 22 and top-ranked player in the field, was two shots further back after shooting 71 and finishing even-par for the tournament.
Guangdong teenager Ren Yue (72) and Thai Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul (75) were equal fourth, five strokes back.
Lin, who goes by the name of ‘Janet’, started the day with a two-shot lead and closed with a round that featured four birdies and four bogeys, including one at the last.
“All week, if I put my real Janet hat on, I will say today I am not doing my best and I have so many things to be improving,” said Lin who struggled with her putting throughout the championship. “My weakness is still pretty obvious, but it’s winning the tournament that counts. It means I can handle it the best on the course no matter what happens. Overall, this is a really big week for me in the way I handle everything.”
Determined not to finish ‘runner-up again’, 21-year-old Liu began strongly in front of her home crowd with consecutive birdies before dropping four strokes in a three-hole spell that left her facing an uphill struggle.
Feng also started with consecutive birdies after starting five shots back. However, she could not mount a challenge and was left to shower praise on her triumphant compatriot.
“It’s time for us to win the Women’s China Open. Congratulations to Xiyu. It’s not been easy for her the past two years but she was really excellent this year. She kept her [LPGA] card and now she has been to the winner’s club again. It’s great for Chinese golf.”
Zhang Weiwei won the China LPGA Tour Order of Merit on the strength of a record four wins on the season. The Hubei native closed with a 76 to finish equal 21st at the championship. “It’s the highest honour on this Tour. I am really happy to earn it,” said the 22-year-old.