New Challenge for Defending Champion Zhang

Zhang Weiwei is defending her title in Beijing this week.

Beijing, China: The China LPGA Tour swings back into action today with Zhang Weiwei looking to successfully defend her Beijing Pearl Challenge title and halt the momentum of super rookie Yin Ruoning who has won the first three events of the season.  

Zhang, the reigning CLPGA Tour Order of Merit champion who posted a record four wins last year, is coming off a strong performance at last week’s Sina Cup where she picked up 2½ points from three matches at the Ryder Cup-style event. 

Last year, she posted a seven-under 65 in the final round of the Le Coq Sportif Beijing Ladies Classic, as the event was then known, to win by three strokes. 

“I haven’t played here (at the Beijing Orient Pearl Country Club) in the fall. It’s different from when I won here last year,” said the 23-year-old Hubei native. 

Also in the 78-player field this week is 19-year-old Liu Wenbo, back in her hometown after playing on the Symetra Tour over the summer in America where she made the cut in two of the three events in which she played. 

She finished her quarantine on October 4 and will play in a group that includes Yin Ruoning and Du Mohan. The trio represented China at the 2018 Asian Games where they won the team bronze. 

“The greens are in good shape and very fast, even faster than those on the Symetra Tour. I will try to find the right touch and sense of distance on the greens. You need to putt well to have a good score here,” said Liu, who’s looking forward to her showdown with Yin Ruoning. 

“Yin has a bullseye on her back with three wins under her belt. We three played together so many times in 2018 but we haven’t been in the same group at a pro event. I’m looking forward to it and try to be the one who ends her streak,” said Liu.

After going 1-1-1 at the Sino Cup, Yin Ruoning was taking all the good-natured jabs at her in stride. The teenager said she changed her irons after her win at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Orient Masters last month and was still getting used to them.   

“I liked my short game. I made some nice saves at Shadow Creek (last week) and had good par save stats. The greens at Orient Pearl are as fast as last week. You must hit to the right spots,” said

For 18-year-old Shanghai native Yin, it’s a first appearance at the Beijing course. “I have not thought much about four straight wins. I need to get more familiar with this golf course and work out a good plan,” said Yin, who has won her first three professional starts. 

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