Yeom dominates in Xiamen to earn maiden win

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After five years of trying, Yeom Hye-in captured her first pro win on Sunday as the South Korean closed with a commanding four-under 68 for a five-stroke victory at the Xiamen Open International in Fujian province.

The 23-year-old, ranked 434th in the world going into the China LPGA Tour-Ladies European Tour (LET) co-sponsored event at Orient Xiamen Golf and Country Club, finished at 16-under 272. The victory was worth 30,000 euors.

"It's still like I'm in a dream. I thought I'm going to cry when I win but I didn't. I didn't feel this is real. It's a turning point for the career," said Yeon, a rookie on the Korean LPGA Tour who was showered in water by her compatriots following her victory.

Defending champion Cheng Ssu-chia of Chinese Taipei (68) rallied over the final two rounds to finish joint runner-up with Thailand's Kusuma Meechai (73).

China's Yan Jing (70) would have shared the equal runner-up but the US LPGA Tour rookie was disqualified for signing a scorecard that had the wrong score marked for her on the 14th hole.

Chinese Taipei's Lin Tzu-chi (70), Dane Nanna Koerstz-Madsen (70) and French veteran Gwladys Nocera (73) were equal fourth.

Starting her round deadlocked with Kusuma two strokes ahead of the field, university student Yeom stumbled out of the gate with a bogey five at the second. She then settled down to card five birdies, including a stretch of three-in-a-row starting at the 12th hole to open up a six-shot lead.

"The first birdie (at the sixth hole) was the turning point. After that I played with no nerves and felt I could do better and play like I did in the first three rounds," said the Incheon native who first picked up a club at 13 when a neighbour took her to a driving range.

"The birdie on 12 really gave me confidence and after that I just played my game. I will definitely come back to defend my championship. Xiamen is a lucky place for me."

Rising star Cheng, who tied the Orient Xiamen course record of eight-under 64 yesterday to start the day five shots off the lead, closed with a solid round featuring five birdies and one bogey.

"It's really comfortable to play here on this golf course. The people out there make me feel at home because we all speak the same language and the food is pretty similar like at home," said the 17-year-old rookie pro was runner-up at the CTBC Shanghai Ladies Classic in June.

"I'm really happy with this score today, this is my best performance this season. It definitely gave me more confidence to win."

Sui Xiang (72) and Jin Man (70) finished the top amateurs as the Chinese teenagers were three-under in equal 19th.

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