Amateur Liu wins to book spot at US Women's Open

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China's amateur golfer Liu Yan booked herself a spot for the upcoming US Women's Open after winning the 36-hole qualifying event on Thursday by a commanding three strokes.

With one spot up for grabs for the 71st championship at the China sectional qualifier played over the Lan Hai International Golf Club Forest course on Chongming Island, the 18-year-old carded rounds of 73 and 68 in the one-day event for a three-under 141 score.

Zhang Yunjie rounded out a strong day for Chinese amateurs as the teenager (72-72) finished runner-up at even par. Thai pro Thanuttra Boonraksasat (72-74) was third.

Liu, who only picked up a golf club for the first time in 2013, was ecstatic with her surprise victory.

"It's very exciting to qualify for the US Women's Open. I never expected this before. I treated the 36 holes like a learning experience," said the China national team member.

With the teenager sitting one stroke off the lead going into the final 18 holes in the 44-player field, Liu closed with a strong round that included six birdies and two bogeys over the Nicklaus-designed layout.

"I didn't know I'm leading until the last hole after my teammate's parents came to see me. I noticed that I might lead, but don't know by how many strokes. I hope I can give it my best show at the big tournament," said the teenager, a winner last year on the China amateur circuit.

China will have a strong contingent at the CordeValle club located south of San Jose for the US Women's Open on July 7-10 as Feng Shanshan, Lin Xiyu, Lu Wanyao, Shi Yuting, Pan Yanhong, Ye Liying and He Muni have already qualified for the 156-player field.

With a prize purse of 4.5 million US dollars, the major tournament is considered the richest in women's golf. South Korean Chun In-gee, the reigning champion, beat compatriot Amy Yang last year by a stroke in Pennsylvania.

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