Hainan, China: Teenager Sun Jiaze enhanced her burgeoning reputation with victory in the 2021 China LPGA (CLPGA) Tour Qualifying Tournament.
Winner of eight titles as an amateur over the past three years, the 19-year-old has now gained full playing rights for this year’s CLPGA Tour, which is scheduled to stage a minimum of 10 events.
The Guangdong native closed with a one-under 71 over The Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula’s East Course for a 54-hole total of eight-under 208 and a one-stroke triumph.
Before teeing-off on Wednesday, Sun said she was hoping to finish atop the leaderboard in the 74-strong field that included 70 amateur hopefuls. “I’m glad I can achieve my goal this week,” said Sun, who began the week in 449th place in the World Amateur Golf Ranking.
Although the winds on the final day were not as strong as in the previous two rounds, it still proved to be testing conditions over the Tom Weiskopf-designed layout.
“Although the wind was weaker than yesterday, it was still tricky,” said Sun, who cited her 20-foot eagle putt at the 495-yard 12th as a key moment. “Making that putt gave me confidence,” she said.
Amateurs dominated the leaderboard with Hainan native Zhang Ruoxi (70) tied for equal runner-up with Hung Chieh-ning (66) of Chinese Taipei. A further stroke back in fourth was China’s Liu Yingxian (70).
Hong Kong’s Wong Yat-yi (78) finished as the top professional in eighth place, 12 shots off the pace. All four professionals in the field earned their playing cards.
Wong, who turned professional last year in the United States, closed with an even-par round featuring three birdies and three bogeys.
“Becoming a professional golfer makes me pay more attention to my golf,” said the University of Sydney graduate. “I will start a full season on the CLPGA. I hope I can play under par in every round.”
The CLPGA Tour’s 2021 season begins on March 26 with the Hengqin Phoenix Tree Building Orient Golf Challenge in Zhuhai.