South Korean Hye In Yeom fired a four under par 68 in the final round of the Xiamen International Ladies Open in China to earn a commanding five shot win over Thailand’s Kusuma Meechai and the 2014 champion Ssu-Chia Cheng of Chinese Taipei.
The 23-year-old from Incheon recorded her first professional title with a four round total of 272, 16 under par at Orient (Xiamen) Golf and Country Club.
The fifth year professional, who this year graduated to the Korean LPGA from the secondary Dream Tour, is a member of the China LPGA Tour and as this was a co-sanctioned event, she will now be eligible to join the Ladies European Tour (LET).
Yeom began the final round tied for the lead with Meechai but after nine holes she was three strokes clear of the field which gave her a comfortable advantage for the remainder of the afternoon. She recorded her only bogey on the second hole, where she three putted from the edge of the green. However a birdie on the sixth settled her nerves and she then moved three clear with a second birdie on the long ninth as her closest challengers struggled in the warm breeze.
A stunning burst of three straight birdies from the 12th saw Yeom move six strokes clear of the field after 14 holes and she closed with four steady pars to seal her first trophy and a cheque for 45,000 euros.
“I feel like I’m still dreaming because I didn’t expect to win,” Yeom said, through translation. “I didn’t see the scoreboard so I just focused on my own game shot by shot and I didn’t know I’d won until the last hole. This will give me a lot of confidence in my golf career.”
Yeom, whose hobby is driving her car along the beach and enjoying beautiful sunsets, relishes playing on Chinese golf courses and she recorded her previous career best finish in the 2014 China Ladies Open, which was co-sanctioned by the China and Korean LPGA Tours.
She became the seventh first time winner on the Ladies European Tour in 2015 and the fourth in a row following Hannah Burke, Nicole Broch Larsen and Celine Herbin.
The next best players, Cheng and Meechai, carded rounds of 68 and 73 respectively to end on 11 under par.
LET rookie Cheng, who won the tournament by three strokes as a 17-year-old amateur in 2014, said: “I’m pretty happy with the performance today even as a runner-up. It’s my best result of the year. I feel very comfortable playing this golf course and the people here and everything, I absolutely love it. We all speak the same language and the food is pretty similar so I’m really happy to play here.”
China’s home hope Jing Yan endured the biggest disappointment of the day. Just one shot behind Yeom before she ran up a double bogey seven on the par-5 ninth, the 19-year-old from Shanghai fought back into contention only to be disqualified for signing for a wrong score. She would have tied for fourth place, but signed for a three instead of a four on the 14th hole.
That meant that the Ladies European Tour’s leading rookie Nanna Koerstz Madsen from Denmark,Tzu-Chi Lin from Chinese Taipei and halfway leader Gwladys Nocera, who holed a birdie putt of around 18 feet on the last, shared fourth place on nine under par.
South African Ashleigh Simon (66), Thailand’s Nontaya Srisawang (68) and Beth Allen (71) tied for seventh place on eight under, with four players including Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen (69) and England’s Liz Young (71) tied for 10th place on seven under par.
Image-Ladies European Tour