Golf sen­sa­tion

Chi­nese star re­tains her ti­tle again af­ter fi­nal-round surge in desert

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Dubai

Chi­nese golfer Feng Shan­shan wins record fourth Dubai Ladies Mas­ters ti­tle.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Feng Shan­shan won a record fourth Dubai Ladies Mas­ters ti­tle on Saturday fol­low­ing a bril­liant 8-un­der-par fi­nal­round 64.

The 27-year-old Chi­nese, WME|IMG China client, started the day five shots be­hind overnight leader Felicity Johnson of Eng­land.

But Feng claimed back-to­back ti­tles, fin­ish­ing on a 10-un­der to­tal of 206 as the lead­ers fell by the way­side on a windy day at the Ma­jlis course of Emi­rates Golf Club.

Feng, the high­est ranked player in the com­pe­ti­tion at world No 4 and also won in Dubai in 2015 and 2014, was chased home by Eng­land’s Charley Hull, who was sec­ond at 8-un­der fol­low­ing a 65.

In 2012, Feng’s his­toric vic­tory in the Weg­mans LPGA Cham­pi­onship es­tab­lished her as the first player from China main­land (male or fe­male) to win a ma­jor ti­tle.

The year of 2016 was an­other truly im­pres­sive year. Feng won the Buick Cham­pi­onship again, this time af­ter a play­off vic­tory, and took home an Olympic Games bronze medal at Rio 2016 when golf re­turned to the sport­ing event af­ter an ab­sence of 112 years.

In­dia’s Aditi Ashok signed off a bril­liant sea­son tied third with Eng­land’s Floren­tyna Parker at 6-un­der in the tour­na­ment that was re­duced to 54 holes fol­low­ing the death of cad­die Max­i­m­il­ian Zech­mann dur­ing the open­ing round on Wed­nes­day.

Amer­i­can Beth Allen won the Ladies Euro­pean Tour (LET) Order of Merit, while Ashok was Rookie of the Year.

Feng made the most of the early holes play­ing down­wind, mak­ing four birdies in a row from the sec­ond on­wards, and then had an­other fan­tas­tic stretch from the par-4 ninth on­wards as she added three more to her tally.

“I’m re­ally happy that I ac­tu­ally brought out my A game to­day,” said Feng.

“I knew that it was go­ing to be windy and I knew that play­ing in the wind is one of my strong­est parts. So even though I was five be­hind, I al­ways thought that maybe I would still have a chance to win this week and I tried my best. So 8-un­der was a pretty good score.”

Hull, who won her first LPGA Tour ti­tle three weeks ago at the CME Group Tour Cham­pi­onship, had a sim­i­lar story to Feng. Af­ter two quiet days, the 21-year-old caught fire and carded a bo­gey-free 65.

“To­day, I kind of woke up and got into my game. I’ve been a bit lazy all week on the course, but to­day I got in there and kind of con­cen­trated,” said the world No 18.

“I holed a few putts and I missed a lot of putts. I hit it pretty well and it was re­ally windy to­day. So I’m quite happy with my score in those con­di­tions.”

Ashok, who shot a third con­sec­u­tive round of 70 with four birdies and two bo­geys, was happy with her fin­ish, although dis­ap­pointed that she could not make the most of the first four holes that played easy on Saturday.

“It was pretty solid. I ac­tu­ally didn’t start very well to­day. I was 1-over in the first four holes when all four were ac­tu­ally birdie-able with the tail­wind. So I didn’t re­ally make use of that,” said the 18-year-old, who also qual­i­fied for the LPGA Tour next year.

Allen, who won twice this sea­son, fin­ished tied-55 th at 6-over on Saturday. The 35-year-old topped the LET money list with $330,000, while Ashok was sec­ond in the stand­ings at $218,205.

The event was over­shad­owed by the death of 56-yearold Zech­mann, who was cad­dy­ing for France’s An­neLise Cau­dal when he col­lapsed on the 13th fair­way on the first day.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Feng Shan­shan of China poses with her tro­phy af­ter win­ning Dubai Ladies Mas­ters on Saturday.

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