Second Straight Title for Teenage Rookie Pro

Zeng Liqi en route to her second successive China LPGA Tour victory.

Xiamen, China: Teenager Zeng Liqi captured her second straight China LPGA Tour title with a stunning come-from-behind triumph in the CGA Ladies Championship.

Starting the day five shots off the lead at Orient (Xiamen) Golf and Country Club, the 16-year-old rookie pro, winner of last month’s Zhangjiagang Shuangshan Challenge, closed with a seven-under 65.

That gave the former amateur star a 54-hole score of 11-under 205 to claim the RMB75,000 winner’s prize by two strokes from overnight leader Liu Yan at the Fujian Province venue.

Zeng reached a high of seventh in the World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR). Her final act before turning pro was to make the cut at April’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

Second round leader Liu could only muster a final round of even-par 72 to finish runner-up. Two strokes further back in third was ahead of amateur Zhang Yahui (71).

Zeng reeled off three straight birdies to start her round and picked up four more shots on the back nine in her bogey-free round.

Zeng said she felt no pressure going into the third round.

“There is rarely a game that makes me feel like I have nothing to do with the champion before I tee-off. After all, five strokes behind, the leader is the powerful player Liu Yan. But my caddie said: ‘It doesn’t matter, hit every shot’. That’s what I did,” said the Nanchang native who moved to the top of the China LPGA Tour Order of Merit with the win.

Zeng, who is 397th in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Ranking, picked up six world ranking points for the win.

“In the first victory, I proved that I cannot always stay in second, I can also win. The second victory tells me that I can also play a great round when I am behind by a big score. This week has been a very good experience for me and a test of my training results,” she said.

For Xiamen native Liu, the 2019 Hong Kong Ladies Open champion who was playing at home for the first time in two years, there was the consolation of being part of the winning team. Guangfu, comprised of Liu, Ren Yue (69) and Chen Yuying (77), won the team competition by three strokes with a score of 418.

It was the first time, the RMB500,000 tournament has featured a team element where groups of two or three professionals could form a ‘team’ with the best two results counting.

In February, Liu won her first event in America when she captured the Redtail Women’s Championship on the East Coast Women’s Pro Golf Tour.

“During my two years abroad, I have gotten used to using range finders and I am no longer familiar with the use of yardage books. I frequently miscalculated yardage. It was a great pity to miss out on the championship as I have already had three runner-up finishes.”

The 23-year-old Liu said she took pride in leading her Guangfu team to the team title and had special praise for Ren, who also recently returned home from overseas competitions, and Xiamen-based Chen.

“I am very happy to win the team championship. The new generation of domestic golfers is very good. They are the hope of Chinese golf.”

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