China's rising star Xi Yu Lin gave a dominant performance on the back nine of Yalong Bay Golf Club to earn a commanding five stroke victory at the Sanya Ladies Open in tropical Hainan, China.
The 18-year-old from Guangzhou fired rounds of 68, 67 and 67 in hot and windy conditions for a 14-under-par total of 202 becoming the first home winner in five years of the tournament, which is tri-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour (LET), China Ladies Professional Golf Association (CLPGA) and Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT).
Lin finished ninth in the inaugural Sanya Ladies Open in 2010 as a 14-year-old amateur and has never finished outside the top-10 in the tournament. This year, she came to Yalong Bay fresh off her fourth professional win on the CLPGA, at the previous week's Sanya's Hills Classic, but this was her first victory on the Ladies European Tour, where she is a second year member.
"I think this is the biggest win of my career because it's my first win on the Ladies European Tour," Lin said. "My mum was with me this week and she always brings me good luck, because in 2012, she came to watch me for the first time in two years when I won my first professional career win on the CLPGA. This time she came and I earned my first win on the Ladies European Tour, so I think she's kind of my lucky star."
After starting the final round with a two stroke lead, Lin lost her advantage to Babe Liu of Chinese Tapei after two holes but after a few missed birdie chances, she found the pace of the greens and made back to back birdies on the seventh and eighth holes. She was then tied for the lead with compatriot Yu Yang Zhang on 10-under at the turn.
Lin said: "Today on the front nine I didn't feel very good and I got into my game pretty slowly. I missed a two yard birdie putt on the first hole and on the second hole I had three putts from 15 yards. I kept missing the birdie putts but I'm so glad I had two birdies on seven and eight, because that meant I had my putting back and I was feeling much better after that. After nine holes I saw Yu Yang was tied with me and I was thinking, 'I've still got nine holes and to go and the back nine is pretty easy, so I need to get every birdie that I can have.'"
With a birdie on 12, eagle on 13 and then another birdie on 14, Lin raced five strokes clear of the field and she added: "On the 10th hole I missed the green and had a great up and down and on the 11th hole I had two putts, because the pin was pretty tough. From the 12th hole, I had a three yard birdie and then on the 13th hole, I had a great drive and I hit 270 yards. Then I had 175 to the front, 200 to the hole and I used a 23 hybrid to hit two yards from it."
England's Charley Hull, also 18, had a final round of 69 to end on nine-under-par in solo second place. She said: "It was a good day and I'm happy with how I'm playing. It was windy out there again today. I nearly holed so many long putts today, 30 footers, but they were all on the edge. I'm pretty happy with the way I'm putting and I'm not missing any short putts like I did here last year so I'm happy and looking forward to next week."
Australian Nikki Campbell and Huei-Ju Shih of Chinese Taipei finished in a share of third place on eight-under-par and in a tie for fifth were China's Yu Yang Zhang and Jienalin Zhang, the leading amateur.
While Beth Allen of the United States ended in seventh place, young Chinese players Ziyi Wang and Yu Ting Shi were part of a group of players in tied eighth place on five-under-par, showing further evidence of China's growing stature within women's world golf.
Lin said: "These last two years, women's golf has developed very fast and all the young players like Shi Yuting, Zhang Yu Yang and Zhang Jienalin, they are having more and more good results on the golf course."
She is now looking forward to the inaugural Xiamen Open, which is co-sanctioned by the LET and CLPGA, taking place next week at Orient (Xiamen) Golf & Country Club.
202 - Xi Yu Lin (CHN) 68 67 67
207 - Charley Hull (ENG) 70 68 69
208 - Huei Ju Shih (TPE) 71 68 69, Nikki Campbell (AUS) 69 70 69
209 - Yu Yang Zhang (CHN) 70 68 71, Jienalin Zhang (CHN) 70 68 71
210 - Beth Allen (USA) 74 65 71
211 - Marion Ricordeau (FRA) 70 70 71, Ziyi Wang (CHN) 68 74 69, Ashleigh Simon (RSA) 72 69 70, Babe Liu (TPE) 68 69 74, Yu Ting Shi (CHN) 70 72 69, Stacy Lee Bregman (RSA) 71 70 70
212 - Pei-Yun Chien (TPE) 71 69 72, Tzu Chi Lin (TPE) 66 76 70, Malene Jorgensen (DEN) 68 72 72, Sarah Kemp (AUS) 72 69 71, Gwladys Nocera (FRA) 68 71 73
213 - Numa Gulyanamitta (THA) 70 71 72, Pamela Pretswell (SCO) 74 66 73, Yan Hong Pan (CHN) 74 70 69, Holly Aitchison (ENG) 72 69 72
214 - Rebecca Artis (AUS) 68 71 75, Joanna Klatten (FRA) 70 69 75, Liz Young (ENG) 69 72 73, Valentine Derrey (FRA) 72 73 69, Klara Spilkova (CZE) 71 72 71, Florentyna Parker (ENG) 73 71 70, Qi Tian (CHN) 72 71 71
215 - Sophie Giquel-bettan (FRA) 71 70 74, Camilla Lennarth (SWE) 72 72 71, Hsuan-Ping Chang (TPE) 70 73 72
216 - Monique Smit (RSA) 73 73 70, Caroline Afonso (FRA) 72 71 73, Eleanor Givens (ENG) 70 72 74, Pavarisa Yoktuan (THA) 70 73 73
217 - Punpaka Phuntumabamrung (THA) 72 74 71, Ziqi Ye (CHN) 70 75 72, Stacey Keating (AUS) 72 72 73, Wannasiri Sirisampant (THA) 72 72 73, Maria Hernandez (ESP) 72 70 75, Pan Pan Yan (CHN) 72 73 72
218 - Chloe Leurquin (BEL) 70 75 73, Wichanee Meechai (THA) 71 74 73, Bree Arthur (AUS) 71 75 72, Kylie Walker (SCO) 73 74 71, Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul (THA) 75 70 73, Ai-Chen Kuo (TPE) 72 74 72, Minea Blomqvist (FIN) 74 71 73
219 - Cassandra Kirkland (FRA) 72 71 76, Titiya Plucksataporn (THA) 69 74 76, Kusuma Meechai (THA) 68 75 76, Fabienne In-albon (SUI) 72 70 77, Tiffany Tavee (USA) 70 73 76
220 - Caroline Martens (NOR) 75 72 73, Stephanie Na (AUS) 72 75 73, Hong Tian (CHN) 74 73 73
221 - Yu-Ling Hsieh (TPE) 73 74 74, Felicity Johnson (ENG) 72 75 74, Hsin Ning Yeh (TPE) 75 72 74, Becky Morgan (WAL) 74 72 75
222 - Trish Johnson (ENG) 75 70 77
223 - Whitney Hillier (AUS) 76 71 76, Lydia Hall (WAL) 72 75 76