Golf: Chinese duo, Thai quartet lead Asian qualifiers for 2016 LPGA
- Updated: December 7, 2015
December 7, 2015: Feng Simin of China secured a seven-stroke, wire-to-wire win in the 90-hole LPGA Qualifying Tournament – Stage III in her home state of Florida to secure an LPGA card for a second straight year.
Born in Beijing but resident in the USA since the age of 10, Feng shot 65, 70 and three straight 69s to post an 18-under-par total of 342 and tie the third-lowest score since the LPGA changed its final qualifying stage to five rounds in 2004.
Feng, 20, was one of two Chinese – along with Singapore-based 19-year-old Jennifer Yan Jing – to finish in the top 20 at LPGA International and was joined by four Thais, one Korean and one Filipina in a strong Asian contingent earning full cards for 2016.
Last December, Feng finished sixth at Q School and was only the fourth Chinese player to earn an LPGA card, following Feng Shanshan, Lin Xiyu and Cindy Feng Yueer. This year, she finished 135th on the money list in her rookie season.
“I’m very excited. Last year I had a really bad final day (75) at in Q-School to finish sixth, but this year I got it done with a win. I’m looking for better things to happen for me,” Feng said. “I won junior golf tournaments and I won in college so this is my first win since turning pro. It can definitely help me get some momentum going for next year.”
Feng has worked with David Leadbetter for last four years and called him a ‘game changer’. “I had a tough two years during my junior career where I wasn’t hitting my drive close to the fairway. He definitely turned it around and he is a great mentor to me.”
A total of 20 players earned LPGA Tour membership through Category 12 on the priority list while 29 others earned membership through Category 17.
Budsabakorn Sukapan (Thailand) was joint runner-up at 11-under, while other other Asian qualifiers included Cyna Rodriguez (Philippines), who tied for fourth, and Julie Yang of Korea, who shared 10th.
Budsabakorn, 18, was one of four Thais – including three teenagers – to earn a full card for 2016. Nontaya Srisawang shared 10th and 17-year-old Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras – who turns 18 on December 29 – tied for 15th before Benyapa Niphatsophon, 18, and China’s Yan took the final two full cards after emerging from a three-way playoff with Christine Song.
Benyapa, who was doused with water by Budsabakorn, said: “It feels good because this is my first year. It just feels so good. I’m ready to come to the United States and be an LPGA player.
“All Thai players really practise a lot and whenever we travel, we go together and stay together. We’ve been working four years for these five days.”
Source: LPGA (www.lpga.com); Editing by SportAsia