Shanshan Feng shrugged off a double bogey on the first hole in her final round and strode to a six stroke victory in the Buick Championship at Shanghai Qizhong Garden Golf Club in China.
Seven in front overnight, the world number five closed with a two-under 70 in breezy conditions to finish at 17 under and collect her first title of the 2015 season in her home country.
“This is not my first time winning in China. I think this is my third time and second time on the LET. I’m really honoured to win my sponsor’s tournament,” said Feng, after sealing her fourth individual title on the Ladies European Tour (LET) and her 13th in total.
South Korea’s Hyeon So Kang, a joint runner-up at the LET’s Indian Open in 2014, returned a final round of 69 to take solo second place on 11 under par, three ahead of Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen, who recorded a career best finish in her second year as an LET member.
“I came into this week with not my best game but I practised a lot and it went well,” said Larsen, a two-time winner on the 2013 LET Access Series.
“The first two days I didn’t make too many putts but Saturday was the perfect day. I shot seven under and holed a bunker shot and a wedge shot. It was nice putting myself in this position and today started with four birdies in the first five holes, which was really nice.”
First round leader Stacey Keating, who opened with a course record 63, tied for fourth place with Amy Boulden from Wales, Thailand’s Wichanee Meechai, Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord and Italian Margherita Rigon, who earned her career best finish in 12 years as a professional.
“I’m very happy because my long game was very good but the difference was my putting. I holed a few important putts and that was the key,” said Rigon, who reverted to using an old putter for the tournament.
Boulden was tied for second on 10 under after 11 holes before dropping shots on the back nine. She said: “The front nine I played solid golf. I was hitting it close and making some solid putts then on the back nine I just got a bit aggressive with my putts.
“It was a good week for me. I feel like my game is in good shape and I don’t feel far away. I’m happy with my performance and I got better each round. Although my score wasn’t as good today I got to five under and it could have been a really low round today so I’m just taking the positives away.”
Feng admitted to feeling nervous after her shaky start, but the 25-year-old from Guangzhou kept the title firmly within her grasp. Although her lead was cut from seven strokes to three after Kang birdied the first two holes, she immediately hit back with birdies on the third and fourth. She remedied a bogey on the sixth with another birdie on seven and was two under on the back nine after a pair of bogeys on holes 11 and 14 against four birdies on 10, 15, 17 and 18.
With a comfortable victory, Feng collected Buick’s Winged Goddess Trophy and a first prize cheque for USD $82,500. She and her amateur partner Liang Zhang also won the team Pro-Am competition running simultaneously over the last two rounds and she therefore earned an additional team prize of USD $15,000, with her total earnings from the day USD $97,500 (approximately 87,000 euros).
After her dominant performance, Feng is now predicted to move up to fourth place on the Women’s World Rankings, ahead of South Korean Hyo-Joo Kim.