Xiyu lin claims back-to-back Sanya Ladies Open ti­tles

China’s Xiyu Lin fired a fi­nal round of seven un­der par 65 in scorch­ing con­di­tions at Ya­long Bay Golf Club to suc­cess­fully de­fend the Sanya Ladies Open in Hainan, China on Novem­ber 8th 2015.

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The 19-year-old from Guangzhou ended on a 54-hole to­tal of 13 un­der par with a two shot mar­gin of vic­tory over com­pa­triot Jing Yan on a leader board dom­i­nated by Chi­nese play­ers, with world no.6 Shan­shan Feng a stroke fur­ther be­hind in out­right third po­si­tion. Ssu-Chia Cheng of Chi­nese Taipei tied for fourth with the United States’ Beth Allen.

Xiyu started the fi­nal day four shots back but took the lead af­ter mak­ing three birdies in her first six holes. She then birdied the eighth and was a stroke ahead at the turn. Three birdies in a row from the 12th se­cured her unas­sail­able ad­van­tage but hav­ing played in the third last group, there was a ner­vous wait be­fore she was de­clared the cham­pion. She said: “It’s the first time I’ve been wait­ing in the club­house to see if some­one could catch me and I was so ner­vous. I kept telling my­self, what­ever hap­pens, just ac­cept that and thank God it was a good re­sult.” Xiyu won on 14 un­der par last year and she has never fin­ished out­side the top 10 in six edi­tions of the tour­na­ment. She said: “I

just love this course so much and ev­ery hole, ev­ery fair­way, ev­ery green. I need to find out why I al­ways play well in Sanya.” Her score could have been lower had she made birdie putts on the 15th, 16th and 18th holes. “On the last cou­ple of holes, I was a lit­tle bit mad, be­cause I missed a short putt on 15, I missed a birdie on 16 and then missed a putt on the last from eight feet.

“Af­ter nine holes I was the same as last year, 10 un­der and I was telling my­self to fin­ish at least 15 this year, try­ing to make it a lit­tle bit bet­ter. Un­for­tu­nately I didn’t but I gave my­self lots of chances and I hit the ball very solid. I’m so glad my long game was re­ally good and even my wedges were get­ting bet­ter the last cou­ple of holes.”

Ex­pe­ri­enced for­mer LPGA player Mardi Lunn cad­dies for Xiyu, who added: “I started to work with her in April this year and she’s re­ally helped me a lot be­cause she used to be a good player and win tour­na­ments. She knows what I’m think­ing and we’re hav­ing a good co­op­er­a­tion.”

Another Chi­nese teenager, Jing, 17, from Shanghai, had a fi­nal round of 68 for solo sec­ond, bounc­ing back from the dis­ap­point­ment of be­ing dis­qual­i­fied from last month’s Xi­a­men Open where she signed for a wrong score.

“I felt like at the end if I played bet­ter there was a chance to get to that num­ber one spot or tie it, but I’m happy with the way I held up,” said Jing, whose fa­ther Ming acted as her cad­die. “Over­all it’s been a pretty good week af­ter what hap­pened at the last tour­na­ment. It’s a learning ex­pe­ri­ence so I tried to put that be­hind me and tried to think about mov­ing for­ward and play­ing the best golf I can.”

Shan­shan, 26, felt that her first ap­pear­ance in the Sanya Ladies Open was a suc­cess over­all, de­spite a dis­ap­point­ing fi­nal round of 70. “I would say I had a rough start to­day. I started with a bogey on the par five and then missed a cou­ple of greens. It didn’t start the way it should have, but I made four birdies from the ninth to the 16th, so that was not bad,” she said.

On the all-Chi­nese top three, Shan­shan com­mented: “I think that’s the first time ever. First and sec­ond place, they are both un­der 20, so I’m re­ally happy to see that be­cause the Chi­nese girls are do­ing a lot bet­ter and they are try­ing to catch up. I feel like the pres­sure is off now, be­cause they are good enough to be on the leader board. It’s not just me, I’m not lonely any­more, so I’m happy.”

Xiyu picked up golf at the age of eight, when Shan­shan was 15, and the pair are good friends. “I started play­ing golf be­cause of her dad and she has al­ways been my role model,” said Xiyu. “The last two years she’s helped me a lot and I’m al­ways try­ing to catch up with her. Re­cently I did pretty well, but I still think she’s such a great player and she’s still my idol.”

Shan­shan is now set to win the 2015 LET Or­der of Merit when she plays in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters next month, where she will be the de­fend­ing cham­pion.

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