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Golf: Korean Shin Conquers Inaugural China Open
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Shin Ji-yai set a strong precedent for future Orient China Ladies Open events when the South Korean captured the inaugural national championship in Xiamen by a commanding eight strokes to claim the US$30,000 winner's prize in Fujian Province yesterday.

Going into the final round with a seven-stroke lead after setting a course record 8-under-par 64 at the Orient Xiamen Golf Country Club on Saturday, the diminutive 18-year-old Seoul native shot 3-under 69 for her third win of the year.

Shin, having captured the Korean LPGA Tour Order of Merit in her rookie season, finished the tournament with an aggregate 17-under 271. This score was the second-largest winning margin ever at a KLPGA-sanctioned event.

Compatriot Choi Na-yeon, 19, registered four birdies on the back nine to finish at 3-under 69 and finishing as runner-up, while Ahn Sun-chu (67) and Suh Bo-mi (69) were third at 6-under.

Shin, named to appear for her country at the World Cup in South Africa in January, said yesterday's round was not as consistent as the first three days. After registering bogeys on the first and third holes, she calmed down to post five birdies before a late bogey on 16. Totally, Shin's impressive performance meant she dropped only five strokes during the tournament.

"Going into today I dreaded losing, especially after having a seven-stroke lead. It would be horrible if I had lost," she said. "I really didn't want to get complacent in my game so I imagined that I was chasing one or two people ahead of me and that seemed to work."

Wang Chun (69) was the top Chinese mainland player, the 28-year-old Beijing native finishing the tournament at 1-under, while Feng Shanshan (71), the 17-year-old Guangdong Province amateur, was even par. Top domestic pro Zhang Na was 2-over with a disappointing 75.

"It wasn't my day. Perhaps I put a lot of pressure on myself to go for broke," said Zhang, winner of last year's Orient Master Tour Order of Merit. Fellow Beijinger Zhong Xiaolong (70) was 6-over.
(Shanghai Daily November 20, 2006)

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