Weihai, China: China’s world number six Feng Shanshan was upstaged by Korean Kim Ji-hyun in the RMB4.15 million Asiana Airlines Open.
Overnight leader ‘Kim Ji-hyun 2’, as she is known on the LPGA Tour of Korea circuit, made a pivotal birdie at the penultimate hole en route to a closing three-under 69 at Weihai Point Golf Resort.
Kim finished the 54-hole event with a total of 11-under 205, one stroke ahead of compatriot Cho Jeong-min (65). The win, her first of the season, at the China LPGA Tour co-sponsored event, was worth RMB833,879.
Korean players dominated the 78-player, no-cut field in occupying the top seven spots on the leaderboard. Bae Seon-woo shot 67 to finish third at two shots off the pace.
Thai teenager Saranporn Langkulgasettrin, the CLPGA Tour Order of Merit leader who has won five times over the past two seasons, closed with a 70 to sit equal eighth at seven shots back.
Kim, who earned her fourth KLPGA Tour since turning pro in 2009, called the competition ‘very intense’ and praised the Weihai Point layout that sits on a peninsula jutting out onto the Bohai Bay and was designed by GolfPlan, a Full Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.
“The golf course is absolutely tough. I am excited to have three great scores and win this lovely trophy. The 17th hole, where I sank a 15-foot birdie putt, was definitely a defining moment. I knew if I held my place at the last hole that I could be the winner,” said the 26-year-old from Seoul.
Although she improved each day, with rounds of 73, 71 and 70 home favourite Feng had to settle for a share of 14th spot.
Nonetheless, the big-hitting Guangdong native put on a show for her fans late in her round with three consecutive birdies starting from the 15th hole to get into red figures.
Feng, the China number one who is still looking for her first win in 2018, said: “The problem is my ball-striking, which made it hard to make birdies. I didn’t handle the par-five holes well. I didn’t hit it close. But three birdies over the final four holes left me with a happy mind.
“I’m really glad to come back home and play before these lovely fans who were cheering for me. I tried my best on every shot. It’s a little bit disappointing that I have had no success this year.”