Shanshan rallies for Sime Darby LPGA title

Shanshan Feng ©Eddie Putera|The ClubHouse
Shanshan Feng ©Eddie Putera|The ClubHouse

Kuala Lumpur: China’s Shanshan Feng claimed her fourth LPGA title with a sublime closing round of eight-under 63 at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia on Sunday.

Trailing overnight leader Pornapong Phatlum of Thailand by four shots coming into the final round, the 24-year-old capitalised on a brilliant putting display as she returned with a flawless card of six birdies and an eagle for a 18-under-par 266 overall at the East Course of Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.

Reminiscent of her winning shot at the Reignwood LPGA Classic last year, Feng conjured up another moment of magic when she hit a fine three-wood approach on the 16th within 10 feet before sinking the resulting eagle putt.

It proved a pivotal moment in the contest as Phatlum, playing in the group behind, found the water with her tee-shot on the par-three 15th to settle for a double bogey; a four-shot swing all but temporarily ending her hopes of becoming the first Thai to triumph on the LPGA.

Pornapong Phatlum ©Eddie Putera|The ClubHouse
Pornapong Phatlum ©Eddie Putera|The ClubHouse

Phatlum closed with a 70 to finish three shots adrift in sole second ahead of Swede Pernilla Lindberg (63), who was tied for third on 268 alongside South Korean duo of So Yeon Ryu and Chella Choi, who fired matching 67s. 2011 champion Na Yeon Choi was placed sixth on 271.

It was another comeback victory for Feng, who was delighted to improve on her runner-up finish last year when she finished four strokes adrift of American Lexi Thompson. “I played really well on today, eight-under with no bogeys. Back nine, I think I was six-under and I think that was why actually I came from behind to the top.

“I think that’s what I actually do very often. Like when I win, I’m usually not leading after the first two rounds. I like to come from behind and I felt no pressure today. What I did was just to focus on every shot, try to do my best and hope that the putts can fall,” shared the 25-year-old, who walked home with a cheque of US$300,000.

Phatlum reflected on an otherwise good week for herself despite the setback. “I feel happy because I had a good week. Despite, striking the ball well today, I didn’t hole enough putts. But it was a good result over all and even on the 15th, I felt that I hit a good shot but pulled it over the green to the left, but it’s okay. I just have to give myself more chances like this in the future,” said the petite Thai lass.

Leading final round scores
266 – Shanshan Feng (CHN) 67-67-69-63
269 – Pornapong Phatluym (THA) 67-67-65-70
270 – Pernilla Lindberg (SWE) 70-68-69-63, So Yeon Ryu (KOR) 66-65-72-67, Chella Choi (KOR) 69-66-68-67
271 – Na Yeon Choi (KOR) 66-70-68-67
272 – Ilhee Lee (KOR) 70-66-68-68
273 – Mi Hyang Lee (KOR) 67-69-69-68, Caroline Masson (GER) 72-67-66-68, Sun Young yoo (KOR) 70-67-68-68, Lydia Ko (NZL) 69-64-70-70
274 – Carlota Ciganda (ESP) 68-69-71-66, Beatriz Recar (ESP) 70-67-71-66, Brittany Lang (USA) 69-68-71-66, Mirim Lee (KOR) 71-67-67-69