China's Feng Shanshan posing with the winner's trophy after clinching the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia golf tournament at the KLGCC on Sunday. - AFP
KUALA LUMPUR: Feng Shanshan carded a sensational eight-under 63 in the final round to become the first Chinese to win the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.
The 25-year-old Shanshan was on fire at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club (KLGCC) as she fired six birdies and an eagle to finish on 18-under 266, three strokes in front of overnight leader Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand.
The 24-year-old Pornanong could only manage a one-under 70 to finish second on 15-under 269.
Shanshan began the day in joint third, four strokes off the lead. But she grabbed the lead with four straight birdies starting from the 11th hole after Pornapong double-bogeyed the par-three 15th. And by the par-five 16th, it was home free for Shanshan as she eagled the hole for a three-shot lead.
She parred the rest of the way home to pick up US$300,000 (RM977,100) and her fourth LPGA Tour title.
“I played really well today, eight-under, no bogeys. I think the six-under on the back nine was what allowed me to come from behind and take the win,” said Shanshan who will now move up four rungs to No. 5 in the Rolex world rankings.
“Most of my wins have been like this, coming from behind. Even today, I didn’t think I was going to win until the 17th hole,” added Shanshan, whose previous best finish this year was joint second at the Women’s British Open in July.
Shanshan was full of praise for her caddie Mercer Leftwich, who was on the bag for Kang Ji-min when the South Korean won the inaugural title in 2010.
“I have to thank my caddie. He’s got a better record here than me. Now, he has two wins. I met him three years ago here. So this is like our third anniversary ... it’s a special moment,” said Shanshan, who finished second in 2013 and joint 19th in 2012.
Like Shanshan, Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg also shot a 63 to go from joint 17th to finish tied third on 14-under 270 with South Koreans Chella Choi and Ryu So-yeon.
South Korea’s Choi Na-yeon, the 2011 champion, was sixth on 13-under 271 after a 67.
New Zealand teenager Lydia Ko finished joint eighth on 273 after firing a 70.
World No.1 Stacy Lewis of the United States finished joint 21st on 277 while compatriot and defending champion Lexi Thompson was tied 41st on 283.
By Ashreena Pillai AND Tan Ming Wai The Star/Asia News Network