Wanning, China: Teenage Shanghai amateur Yin Ruoning upstaged her professional rivals with a one-stroke success in the China LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament.
The 18-year-old closed with an even-par 72 over The Dunes at Shenzhou Golf Club West Course. That gave her a 72-hole total of 11-under 277 to top the graduating class for the 2020 season, earning one of 30 full-time playing cards on offer.
Overnight leader Kultida Pramphun (74) of Thailand finished equal runner-up with Japan’s Natsumi Nakanishi (69) and Riri Sadoyama (70). Former US LPGA Tour regular Patcharajutar Kongkraphan (70) of Thailand was equal fifth with Japanese Mana Shinozaki (73), while rising Indian star Ridhima Dilawari was seventh after signing off with a 69.
Yin, who started the day one stroke off the lead, made birdies at the second and fourth holes to get to 13-under, but dropped three strokes over the next seven holes. A birdie at the long 14th proved to be the difference for the teenager as playing partner Kultida went bogey, double-bogey on 16 and 17 to drop to 10-under.
“I am glad to be the leader of the CLPGA Qualifying Tournament, but I am not so satisfied with my game today because I should have been better,” said Yin, a national team player who helped China to the team bronze at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia.
“In 2020, I hope to win on the CLPGA Tour. Maybe I will turn pro after the 2020 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship and Blue Bay Masters, but not now.”
Kultida lamented a missed opportunity to win her second tournament since turning pro last year.
“I played not very well today. I made a double-bogey at 17 so I was over par,” said the 19-year-old from Pathum Thani. “But I am still happy that I can play on the CLPGA Tour this year.”
Nakanishi, one of 10 Japanese to earn their full-time playing cards, finished strongly with three birdies over the last seven holes to tie for runner-up. The 20-year-old Okinawa native said: “It’s my first time to come to China and I’m looking forward to playing on the CLPGA Tour in 2020.”
Also looking forward to returning is Patcharajutar who is back in Asia full-time after losing her playing card – and admittedly her confidence – while playing in the US.
“I had a lot of happy moments with my fellow players and I am very excited to come back. My aim this year is to win one or two CLPGA tournaments,” said the player known as ‘PK’, a four-time winner on the CLPGA Tour in 2010-2011.