Thailand's Porani blows away field at Beijing Renji Golf Challenge

08:56, May 23, 2011      

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The strong wind wasn't the only thing blowing away the field at the 50,000-U.S.-dollar Beijing Renji Challenge Sunday as Thailand's Porani Chutichai carded a final round 71 to capture her second victory of the China LPGA Tour season by a five-stroke margin.

The 25-year-old Chiang Rai native, winner of the Yangzhou Challenge last month, finished with a 54-hole aggregate score of one-under 215 to earn 7,500 dollars and solidify her standing atop the CLPGA Tour Order of Merit.

Porani, who won the Sat-Thai LPGA Championship in play-off last week in Chonburi, got off to a strong start when she birdied the par-three second. She then picked up further shots with birdies at the ninth and 10th holes, before bogeys at the 12th and 15th holes.

"I didn't know I was playing better than everyone until the back nine. I thought one-under would be a good score. I didn't know the scores until I hit the 18th hole and then I felt much better," she said.

"I saw (my score was) one-under and the next was four-over, so I had a big cushion and just played for fun. The other Thai players were gathered around the (18th) green telling me to four-putt."

Porani dedicated the win to her father who has been battling cancer for much of the past two years.

"I talked to him last night and he sounded like he was so happy that I was the leader. I told him I would try my best and try to get the trophy for him. He's back at the house and is following the live scoring on the Internet. I just want to tell him I did it," she said, her eyes welling up.

Thidapa Suwannapura made it a one-two finish for Thai players in closing with a strong round of four-under 68, tied for the low round of the tournament, to finish runner-up.

Wang Ziyi, a 13-year-old Beijinger, and 14-year-old fellow amateur Yu Okamura of Japan, both of whom shared the second-round lead with Porani, struggled in the 27-kilometer-hour wind as each shot a final round 77 to finish equal third, six shots off the pace.

Thailand's Narisara Kerdrit, who carded an eagle two at the 320-yard, par-four 14th, closed with a 68 to finish equal fifth with American Catherina Wang (73) seven shots back.

Thidapa, who won the Singha Pattaya Open two weeks ago and lost in a playoff to Porani last week, had an impressive round that included eight birdies offset by three bogeys.

"Today, I just try my best and my aim was to get in the top 10. It's okay," said the 18-year-old rookie pro who will attempt to qualify for her U.S. LPGA Tour playing card later this year.

"I just wanted to keep my game and have a chance to make birdie. It was hard to play today because it was so windy. Every shot I think about my yardage, how much I have to hit."

The third year of the CLPGA Tour features 16 events culminating in the US$250,000 Hyundai China Ladies Open this December in Xiamen, Fujian province.

Next week the tour moves to the Orient Pearl Golf Club for the Beijing Pearl Challenge, May 27-29.

Source: Xinhua
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