Xiamen, China: There’s just no stopping teenage sensation Yin Ruoning. Continuing one of the most astonishingly successful starts to a professional golfing career, the Shanghainese starlet eked out a hard-fought one-stroke victory in the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Orient Masters. It was her third win from three starts since relinquishing her amateur status last month.
Displaying skill and poise in equal measures, the 17-year-old closed with a bogey-free three-under 69 for a 54-hole score of 10-under 206 at Fujian Province’s Orient Xiamen. The former China national amateur representative is believed to be the first player to post three straight wins to start a pro career.
“Three straight wins definitely is a great achievement. It’s an incredible start for my professional career,” said Yin, a member of the bronze medal-winning China team at the Asian Games in 2018, the year in which she placed equal 16th individually in the Queen Sirikit Cup at Thailand’s Thana City.
“Last week, Chris Feng [China LPGA Tour, Operations Director] told me to step on the gas and try to win back-to-back. I said I wanted three straight wins. He said ‘no one ever did that’. I’m really happy I did it. I proved that,” added Yin, who earned RMB100,000 for her latest triumph.
Zhang Weiwei, last year’s China LPGA Tour Order of Merit winner, shot a tournament low six-under 66 to finish one stroke back at the RMB500,000 event that was played without spectators. Zhang Yunjie, who led the tournament with three holes remaining, ended third on 208 following a 70. Liu Yan (69) was fourth, a shot further back.
Going into the final round with a one-stroke lead, Yin made a birdie-four at the 534-yard second to get to eight-under. She parred the next nine holes before making her second birdie of the day at 12. Meanwhile, her playing partner Zhang Yunjie progressed to 10-through 15 holes to lead by one.
It was the 165-yard 16th that proved decisive. While Zhang Yunjie three-putted for a bogey-four, Yin holed a 25-footer for a birdie-two. That two-shot swing enabled Yin to regain a one-stroke lead that she would not relinquish.
“A pivotal moment was the 16th hole,” said Yin, who also won the China LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament in January as an amateur.
For Zhang Weiwei it was her best result of the season, the 23-year-old Hubei native snaring six birdies in a bogey-free round. “Something clicked today,” said Zhang who has qualified for December’s US Women’s Open.
For her part, Zhang Yunjie lamented a poor finish that saw her hopes of a maiden professional win evaporate. “The last three holes were crucial. I had a three-putt bogey at 16, where I missed a three-foot par putt. I also missed a 10-footer for birdie at 17. At the last hole I hit over the green. I knew then it was game over,” said the 22-year-old Hainan native. “I feel a little disappointed. The trophy slipped away from my hands.”