Fearless Sui Rises to Zhuhai Challenge

Sui Xiang captured her maiden China LPGA Tour title.

Zhuhai, China: Sui Xiang overcame high fever and self-doubts before securing her maiden victory as a professional at the Guowei Centre Plaza Zhuhai Challenge, beating Zhao Zhimeng on the second hole of a play-off.

Both players closed with one-under 71s at Zhuhai Orient Golf Club to finish deadlocked at one-over 217 for 54 holes at the final tournament of the China LPGA Tour season.

After both made par on the first extra hole, Zhao came a cropper at the second play-off hole where her approach shot found a hazard and she missed a 10-foot putt for a par.

On the green in regulation, Guangzhou native Sui safely two-putted for a par from 10 feet to secure her first win since turning pro in 2017.

“Today, I woke up at 7 am and had a 39-degree fever. I told myself that I would withdraw if I still felt uncomfortable at my (8.40 am) tee time. Fortunately I started my round smoothly and had two nice birdies early (at the second and seventh holes),” said Sui.

“But during the round, I was in pain, especially my back. I doubted whether I could finish the round. For this reason, I forgot my worries as well as other players’ scores. I just played my game without any fear. Thankfully, I didn’t quit and I am holding this trophy now.”

Overnight leader Sun Jiaze struggled to a 75 to finish third, one stroke back while Wan Yuanyuan (73) was fourth, two shots off the pace. Although Fan Shuangshuang ballooned to a final round 79, the rookie pro finished fifth.

Sui started her round three strokes behind pace-setting Sun and held steady in posting two birdies and a bogey on the front nine to make the turn at one-under. After seven straight pars, the 23-year-old dropped a stroke at the 153-yard penultimate hole but rebounded for birdie at the last to force the play-off.

Zhao, the first-round leader, looked to be out of it after carding three bogeys and a birdie through the first 10 holes. She then battled back with consecutive birdies starting at the 13th, before picking up another stroke at the 306-yard 16th.

“My happiness outweighs disappointment at the end of the day. I didn’t expect that I would be in the mix,” said the 20-year-old Shanxi native, one of numerous players feeling discomfort during the tournament.

“I outperformed what I had imagined and had a chance. However, Sui Xiang played better and steadier than me.”

Defending champion Pan Yanhong closed with a 79 to sit 12 shots off the pace. An Tong, winner of July’s Hangzhou International Championship, was the top amateur as the Tianjin native carded a 71 to finish equal 14th. Rookie pro Zeng Liqi, the money leader going into this week, was a shot further back after a 76, her best round of the tournament.

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