Huzhou, China: Teenage amateur An Tong upstaged her professional rivals by winning the Hangzhou International Championship in spectacular fashion.
In the RMB1.2 million tournament that pitted the women of the China LPGA Tour against the men of the China Tour in four rounds of stroke play, Tianjin native An overcame a three-stroke deficit at the start of the day with a closing eight-under 64.
That gave the 16-year-old a 72-hole aggregate of 22-under 266 at Moganshan Gowin Golf Club in Zhejiang Province, two strokes ahead of CLPGA Tour rookie pro Fan Shuangshuang.
Fan, a 17-year-old from Chongqing, claimed the RMB180,000 first prize as the top pro after posting a bogey-free round of four-under 68.
China Tour veteran Chen Dinggen, who led the tournament after the first and third rounds, posted an even-par 72 to finish equal third on 271 with CLPGA Tour regular Sui Xiang (66).
Playing in the final group, An, who began the week in 277th place in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, was soon into her stride, making a birdie at the first hole. Following a bogey at the 157-yard second – her only dropped shot of the day – she rebounded for a birdie at the next before picking up further more strokes at the fifth and seventh holes to make the turn at three-under.
After an eagle three at the 463-yard 11th, An dominated down the stretch, carding three straight birdies starting from the 15th hole for her third title of the year, two of which came in the junior ranks, including last week’s first leg of the HSBC National Junior Champions.
She said: “As the youngest player in the field, I am very excited to win the championship. I played patiently all day. My putting and irons were very good. I played very decisively and aggressively. On the last hole, after the second shot, my caddie (her father) told me that I only needed a par to win the championship. That’s when I realised I was going to win my first professional championship.”
One stroke behind Chen at the start of the day, Fan grabbed a share of the lead when she birdied the second hole. She picked up another stroke at the 512-yard fifth to get to 18-under but could not keep up with An.
“Four consecutive rounds all under 70. I did very well. After all, this is my first pro game, which is a very good start for a rookie,” said Fan who will go to the US this month for stage one of the LPGA qualifying tournament.
“I played well today, but An Tong played better. I made a marked improvement in my short clubs in the final round and managed to save a lot of pars. Today’s mentality is also very good.”
In the hunt for his first national-level title, Chen could not seal the deal. The Jiangxi native closed with an even-par round featuring four birdies, including two straight to finish, and four bogeys, including a disastrous stretch of three consecutively starting from the 378-yard seventh.
He said: “Congratulations to the next generation of young Chinese golfers. They are great, and they are the hope for the future of Chinese golf.”
For the tournament, the course measured 7,033 yards for the men and 6,169 yards for the women.