Hangzhou, China: Zhang Jienalin celebrated her maiden professional win as Chinese female golfers outshone their male counterparts in the Hangzhou International Championship.
Zhang held her nerve to sink a 10-foot putt birdie putt on the final green at Moganshan Gowin Golf Club in Zhejiang Province for a closing one-under-par 71.
With a four-round total of 10-under 278, the 23-year-old Henan native finished one shot in front of super rookie Yin Ruoning and Zhang Yunjie. A further stroke back in equal fourth were Ren Yue and overnight leader Liu Yiyi followed by Liu Wenbo on 281 as China LPGA Tour players occupied the top-six places on the leaderboard in the mixed field event.
Ye Jianfeng (72) was the top male player, tied for equal seventh with 15-year-old female amateur Yin Xiaowen.
Former Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship winner Guan Tianlang, making his professional debut, stuttered to a closing 81. Having held the first-round lead following a 67, Guan had to settle for a share of 27th place on three-over 291. Ye Wocheng, another celebrated Chinese male amateur who was also making his first appearance as a pro, signed off with a 76 to tie for 33rd.
For her part, Zhang Jienalin was a picture of calmness as she broke her victory duck and collected the first prize of RMB180,000. “I thought that I’d have a surreal feeling winning my first professional tournament. But now I just thought ‘that’s it’. I’m not very excited, I just did it. I did a great job, no heart racing.
“This result is not as I anticipated. I thought the boys would win. But the leaderboard is full of girls. The boys played aggressively and had some really low scores, but the girls were really steady.”
Yin Ruoning, who won the first three legs of the China LPGA Tour season, made a strong bid for a fourth title, nailing seven birdies against two bogeys in a closing 67.
“I made some long birdie putts. But I feel disappointed as I also missed a couple of short birdie putts,” said the Shanghai teenager. “Maybe next time I can win again.”
There was also disappointment for 29-year-old Ye, whose attempts to overhaul his female rivals were thwarted as he posted a final-day even-par 72.
“It’s a pity, I really thought I could win this. But I didn’t find my right rhythm for the past few days. I’m disappointed not because I lost to girls but because I didn’t play better. The girls are really good. I treat them as my rivals. No one is better or worse, they are just good players,” said Ye, whose wife gave birth to a son last week.
For the men, the course stretched to 7,017 yards while the total distance from the women’s tees measured 6,106 yards.