Feng shows flourish for big finish
Updated: 2015-12-08 08:02
By Agencies In Daytona Beach, Florida(China Daily)
Wire-to-wire victory ensures full LPGA Tour exemption for 20-year-old Chinese star
China's Feng Simin completed a wire-to-wire victory in the LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament on Sunday to regain a full exemption.
The 20-year-old closed with a 3-under 69 at LPGA International for an 18-under 342 total and a seven-stroke victory. The top 20 earned full cards, and Nos 21-45 and ties received conditional status.
"I'm very excited," Feng said. "Last year I had a really bad final day to finish sixth in Q-school, but this year I got it done with a win. I'm looking for better things to happen for me."
Feng played one season at Vanderbilt University in Nashville before turning pro last year.
"I won junior golf tournaments and I won in college so winning here is my first victory in a professional event since turning pro," Feng said. "It can definitely help me get some momentum going for next year."
Feng has worked with instructor David Leadbetter for four years.
"I had a tough two years during my junior career where I wasn't hitting my drive close to the fairway," Feng said. "He definitely turned it around and he is a great mentor to me."
Grace Na of the US and Thailand's Budsabakorn Sukapan tied for second at 349. Na shot 69 and Sukapan 70 in the final round. Canada's Maude-Aimee LeBlanc and the Philippines' Cyna Rodriguez shot 71 to tie for fourth at 10-under.
Cheyenne Woods, Tiger Woods' niece, had a 69 to jump from a tie for 24th to a tie for 13th at 3 under.
"It's such a grind out here every single shot every day," Woods said. "To be done with the week feels great. My season is officially over now and it feels great to have a round like this to finish off the year. I feel great with how I played today and I feel like I gave it my all."
Woods, 25, shared 11th at last year's event to qualify for the LPGA, but made only eight of 17 cuts in her rookie campaign to finish 125th on the money list. Her best finish was a share of 24th at Phoenix.
By sharing 13th this year on six-under par 354 after a closing 69, she will have another chance to keep her card based on prize money next year.
Megan Khang also earned a full exemption, along with Cydney Clanton, Ashlan Ramsey, Laetitia Beck, Nontaya Srisawang, Gaby Lopez, Julie Yang, Sandra Changkija, Holly Clyburn, Bertine Strauss, Lindy Duncan, Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras, Benyapa Niphatsophon and Jing Yan.
Lopez, from Mexico, turned professional after the round.
"Right now I have a million emotions in my mind and in my heart," Lopez said. "This round was a tough one. I didn't expect it to be that hard but I proved to myself that I was prepared for that moment."
She gave up the second half of her senior season at Arkansas.
"Arkansas has been a huge part of my career," Lopez said. "I improved so much on the golf course and matured so much on and off the course. I'm so blessed to be part of such a great program."
There was a playoff for the final two spots available between three players who finished 90 holes on 356. China's Yan Jing and Thailand's Benyapa Niphatsophon qualified while American Christine Song missed out.
Feng Simin's victory in the LPGA Tour Qualifying Tournament at Daytona Beach, Florida, on Sunday regained a full tour exemption for the 20yearold Chinese pro.
(China Daily 12/08/2015 page22)