Jiangsu Joy for Thai Teenager Saranporn

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Zhangjiagang Island, China: Thai teenager Saranporn Langkulgasettrin survived a late-round wobble to emerge victorious in the Sun Car Zhangjiagang Shuangshan Classic.

Saranporn’s one-stroke success was the 18-year-old’s fourth career victory on the China LPGA Tour and her first this season. She won three times last year en route to topping the Order of Merit.

Nine-under with a four-stroke lead through 13 holes, Saranporn seemed set fair for a stress-free stroll over the closing holes at Jiangsu Province’s Shuangshan Golf Club, sculpted by Nelson & Haworth Golf Course Architects, an Associate Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.

But it did not turn out that way with the Thai dropping four strokes over the next three holes. However, she regained her composure to make par on the final two holes, enabling her to sign for a 71 and a five-under 211 total, one stroke clear of Chinese amateur Liu Wenbo (69), the defending champion.

Zhang Yue, a 17-year-old Chinese amateur, finished third on 213 after closing with a 72. Thai Kanyalak Preedasuttijit(72) was a further shot back in fourth.

“The final round I felt a little nervous because I haven’t been in this position for few months. It’s great to be back on top again,” said the Phuket native whose round included five birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey at the 369-yard, par-four 14th hole. Saranporn earned RMB120,000 for her 14th pro title.

Starting the day at one-under, Liu posted a birdie on the first hole. She picked up another stroke at the fourth before a bogey at the eighth. With birdies at 13, 15 and 16, she got to five-under. Burt her chances evaporated with a bogey at 17.

“I’m a little disappointed with the last two holes. I looked at the leaderboard while on the tee of the 17th hole. I wanted to get birdie too much but I missed it and made bogey,” said the 17-year-old from Beijing, who will represent China at the forthcoming Asian Games in Indonesia.

Hainan native Zhang said playing in the last group of a pro tournament for the first time boosted her confidence. “The changes and efforts I made the last few weeks worked. I learned a lot – about strategy making, mental fixing and the skills of putting,” said the Haikou resident.

Yin Xiaowen, the overnight co-leader who had the opportunity to become the youngest ever winner of a pro event, struggled in the final group. The 13-year-old Tianjin amateur came home with a final round 89 to finish tied for 56th playing in her fourth pro tournament.