Teenager Liu Claims Maiden Professional Victory

Liu Wenbo celebrates her first victory as a professional.

Beijing, China: Teenager Liu Wenbo stayed cool under pressure to earn her maiden win as a pro with a one-stroke triumph over defending champion Zhang Weiwei at the Beijing Pearl Challenge. 

With the final round played under sunny conditions at Beijing Orient Pearl Country Club, Liu, the co-leader for the first two rounds of the RMB500,000 tournament, closed with a 72 to finish on even-par 216. The victory was worth RMB75,000.

Zhang, the defending China LPGA Tour Order of Merit champion and the other co-leader going into the final round, closed with a one-over 73. Ren Yue posted a tournament low four-under 68 to finish three strokes off the pace in third place, while Pan Yanhong (72) was a stroke further back. 

A Beijing native who finished her quarantine on October 4 after playing on the Symetra Tour in the US over the summer, 19-year-old Liu played steadily, carding three birdies (first, 14th and 17th) against three bogeys (seventh, 10th and 12th).

“I made progress in the USA and came here with more confidence. I’m happy that I finally have my first win as a pro. I’ve been waiting a long time. The competition was really tense today,” said Liu who will be in Jiangsu Province next week for the Zhangjiagang Shuangshan Challenge, a tournament she won in 2017 as a 16-year-old amateur.

“The gap was only one shot after the 12th hole. Weiwei bounced back and forced me to play well down the stretch. But I didn’t panic or rush. The (par-five) 14th hole was important. Weiwei reached the green in two. Meanwhile, I was in a bad lie. But I had an impressive chip shot and made birdie there. The 17th hole was also key. I made a 15-foot birdie and had a two-shot lead.” 

Zhang, who was in the hunt for her first win of the year after capturing a record four titles in 2019, was playing catch-up all day after disaster struck early. Her round included six birdies, three bogeys and a quadruple-bogey seven at the 190-yard third hole.

“I made such a mess at the third hole and hit to a tree root. I then advanced (the ball) two or three yards. The next shot was over the green,” lamented the Hubei native, a five-time winner on the CLPGA Tour.  “I’m happy that I didn’t give up. I was tough and tried my best to hang in there. But after the tee shot at the 18th hole I knew it was her (Liu’s) time.” 

Liu Yan, the first-round co-leader, had a hole-in-one at the 130-yard seventh when her perfect shot found the cup with a nine-iron. She closed with a two-over 74 to finish equal sixth, seven strokes back. 

Super rookie Yin Ruoning saw her winning streak stopped at three tournaments as the Shanghai native closed with a 73 to finish eighth. 

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