Teenage Rookie Pro Passes Nelson & Haworth Test

Zeng Liqi claimed her maiden professional victory. Picture by China LPGA.

Zhangjiagang Island, Jiangsu Province, China: Teenage prodigy Zeng Liqi captured her maiden title as a professional with a three-stroke success in the Zhangjiagang Shuangshan Challenge. 

The 16-year-old Nanchang native, who turned pro in late May after an outstanding amateur career, finished on four-under 212 to earn the RMB75,000 first prize at the 54-hole China LPGA Tour event.  

Amateur Zhang Yahui was runner-up after closing with an even-par 72 at the Zhangjiang Shuangshan Golf Club, designed by Nelson & Haworth Golf Course Architects, an Associate Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

Veteran Pan Yanhong (71) ended third while overnight leader Zhang Yunjie ballooned to 79 to finish fourth, six shots off the pace. Sun Jiaze (74) was fifth a shot further back as the Guangdong native fell short in her bid to win three consecutive titles. 

After finishing runner-up as an amateur at last year’s championship, Zeng made no mistake this time around when she overcame a two-shot deficit at the start of the final day with a two-under 71 which included four birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey seven on the 529-yard seventh. 

“Today is the most meaningful day for me. I have been close to winning many times but missed out because of some small mistakes. Shuangshan Island has witnessed my progress every year. Winning this championship has made me more confident and is reward for my hard work,” said the rookie pro, who cited an 18-foot birdie putt at 16 as key. 

“That made me believe that the championship belonged to me. Last night, I was talking with my coach, Ye Liying, and she thought there was no shortage of strength in my ball striking, rather what I needed was calm. Today, I really did it, except for one bad hole at the seventh where I three-putted.”  

Four shots off the lead heading into the final round, Zhang Yahui, 40th in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, was unable to mount a challenge. Her round included three birdies, a bogey and a double-bogey six at the 405-yard 11th.

“I played very aggressively at the beginning of the day and this was my strategy. But the greens here are really difficult,” said the 16-year-old Wuhan native, winner of last year’s CTBC Ladies Classic. 

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