14-Year-Old Creates China LPGA History

Teenager Ren Yijia celebrates her China LPGA Tour victory.

Beijing, China: Ren Yijia wrote her name into the China LPGA history books when the 14-year-old amateur defeated veteran Pan Yanhong on the second hole of a play-off to become the Tour’s youngest winner.

In a rain-soaked final round at the Beijing Women’s Challenge, both players closed with five-under-par 67s over the Beijing Orient Pearl layout to finish on nine-under 207.

On the first play-off hole, the 499-yard 18th, Pan and Ren both made birdie fours. Returning to the same hole, 41-year-old Pan, a six-time winner on the CLPGA Tour, found trouble on her second shot when she landed in a greenside bunker. Ren, who was about 32 yards out in the rough, hit her third shot to within a few inches of the pin with a 58-degree wedge.

After Pan’s bunker shot landed 20 feet from the pin and she missed her par putt, Ren tapped in for birdie and the championship.

At 14 years, 10 months and 15 days, Ren becomes the CLPGA’s youngest winner, bettering the previous mark set by Ni Zixin who won the 2022 Golf Liquor Challenge at 14 years, 11 months and six days.

“Ni Zixin became the youngest winner in Nanshan in 2022 where I made my debut on the CLPGA Tour. I knew she broke the record. At that time, Ni’s mother told me that I could be the youngest winner one day. I am proud of myself since I did it today,” said Ren, who only took up golf five years ago.

Thai Dolnapa Zukphokinvanich finished third on 210 after closing with a 69, one shot ahead of overnight co-leader Huang Ching (72) of Chinese Taipei and amateur Zhou Shiyuan (68).

Fellow amateur Liu Yujie, the other overnight co-leader, struggled to a 75 to finish equal 10th at seven strokes back.

Ren, who began the day one shot off the lead, got off to a solid start in her bogey-free round when she carded three birdies over the front nine. The Dalian teenager picked up another stroke at the par-five 14th to get to eight-under.

As Pan, playing in the final group, three-putted the 176-yard 17th for bogey, Ren playing in the group ahead got up-and-down for birdie on the final hole for a two-shot swing to lead by one stroke. Pan then answered with a two-putt birdie at the last to force the play-off.

“Pan Yanhong is nearly the same age as my mother. She’s a great player. In the play-off I just looked at her as another rival and tried my best to beat her. It was a tough battle.

“She hit the green in two shots at the first extra hole and put much pressure on me. To my surprise, I hit two great chip shots under the gun,” said Ren, winner of the 2024 HSBC National Junior Champions leg two junior event this month.

Pan, who received the RMB75,000 winner’s purse, was gracious in defeat in her praise for Ren, saying that she lost to a better player.

“At the 18th hole, I hit the approach shots three times (regulation and two extra holes) in a similar distance of about 210 yards. I used the same club (hybrid) but didn’t’ hit it that great the last time. I hit a loose shot in the bunker, too. It was poor execution,” said the Hubei native. 

“But I don’t regret. My aim was 68 each day. I didn’t achieve that for the first two rounds but did more than that today. Ren is a great girl. She hits it long with a great short game.”

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