Xiyu Lin celebrates after retaining her Sanya Ladies Open crown
Xiyu Lin defied energy-sapping heat and humidity to retain her Sanya Ladies Open title with a two-shot victory at the Yalong Bay Golf Club in Hainan.
The teenager upstaged home favourite Shanshan Feng as she fired a flawless seven-birdie 65 to post a winning score of 13 under par – two better than 17-year-old Jing Yan and three ahead of Feng as Chinese players dominated the podium.
Lin had started day three four shots off the pace, but her third birdie of the round at the sixth gave her the outright lead and she picked up another at the eighth to turn in 32.
The 19-year-old then birdied 12, 13 and 14 for the second day running, and four closing pars proved enough to seal back-to-back victories in an event in which she has never finished outside of the top 10 in six starts.
“It’s the first time I’ve been waiting in the clubhouse to see if someone could catch me and I was so nervous,” she said. “I kept telling myself, whatever happens, just accept that and thank God it was a good result. 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.”
Lin’s victory could have been more emphatic had she converted good birdie chances on three of the final four holes, and she added: “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.”
Lin’s fellow teenager Yan was disqualified from last month’s Xiamen Open after signing for an incorrect score, and she was delighted to claim outright second after six birdies and two bogeys in a 68.
“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 Yan. “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.”
Shanshan Feng is overwhelming favourite to win the LET Order of Merit
Feng missed out on a share of second after she bogeyed the last hole to card a disappointing 70, but the world No 6 was satisfied with her first appearance in the tournament.
“I would say I had a rough start today,” she said. “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.”
Feng’s performance consolidated her commanding lead in the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit, lifting her almost 94,000 euros ahead of nearest rival Nicole Broch Larsen with just two events remaining.