Sui ends year in style with sudden-death win at Zhuhai Challenge
Published: Dec 25, 2022 05:46 PM
Sui Xiang Photo: Courtesy of the China Golf Association

Sui Xiang Photo: Courtesy of the China Golf Association

Sui Xiang earned her maiden victory as a professional golfer on Friday when the Guangzhou native beat Zhao Zhimeng in a second-hole playoff to win the Zhuhai Challenge in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province.

Both players closed with a round of one-under 71 at the Zhuhai Orient Golf Club to finish deadlocked at one-over 217 for 54 holes at the final tournament of the China LPGA Tour season. After each made par on the first hole of sudden death, Zhao hit into a hazard on her second shot during the second-hole playoff and then missed a 10-foot (3.05-meter) putt for a par. Sui made two putts for a par from 10 feet for her first win since turning pro in 2017.

Overnight leader Sun Jiaze struggled to a 75 to finish third, one stroke back. Wan Yuanyuan (73) was fourth, two shots off the pace. Fan Shuangshuang ballooned to a final-round 79, but it was enough for the rookie pro to finish fifth.

Sui started her round three strokes behind overnight leader Sun and held steady in posting two birdies and a bogey on the front nine to make the turn at one-over. After seven straight pars, the 23-year-old dropped a stroke at the 153-yard (139.9-meter) penultimate hole and then rebounded for a birdie at the last to force the playoff. 

"This morning, I woke up at 7 o'clock and had a 39 C fever. I told myself that I would withdraw if I still felt uncomfortable at my [8:40 am] tee time. I was happy I could start my round smoothly and had two nice birdies early [at the second and seventh holes]," said Sui.

"During the round, I was in a lot of pain, especially my back. I doubted whether I could finish the round. For this reason, I forgot my worries as well as other players' scores. I just played my game without any fear. Thankfully, I didn't quit and I am holding this trophy now."

Zhao, the first-round leader, looked to be out of it as she struggled early in carding three bogeys and a birdie through the first 10 holes. She then battled back with consecutive birdies starting at the 13th hole, before picking up another stroke at the 306-yard 16th hole.

"My happiness outweighs my disappointment at the end of the day. I didn't expect that I would be in the mix," said the 20-year-old Shanxi native who was one of the many players feeling discomfort during the tournament.

"I performed better than I had imagined and had a chance. However, Sui Xiang played better and steadier than me. Last night, I felt achy all over my body, especially my back. I couldn't sleep well on my back."

Notable scores included defending champion Pan Yanhong who closed with a 79 to sit 12 shots off the pace. An Tong, winner of the Hangzhou International Championship in July, was the top amateur as the Tianjin native carded a 71 to finish equal 14th. Rookie pro Zeng Liqi, the money leader going into the week, was a shot further back after a 76, her best round of the tournament.

The Zhuhai Challenge is being played at the Zhuhai Orient Golf Club, a 6,269-yard, par-72 layout designed by TK Pen.