Top Chinese Taipei amateur Cheng Ssu-Chia, 17, won the inaugural Xiamen Open on her Ladies European Tour debut when she fired a final round 68 in hot and sunny conditions at Orient (Xiamen) Golf and Country Club in China.
Cheng made a par on the last hole for a 54-hole total of 10 under par and a three stroke victory over French professional Marion Ricordeau, who earned the €37,500 first prize cheque due to Cheng’s amateur status. Cheng said that she was nervous, but she looked calm and confident throughout the tournament before she collected her fourth professional victory, as she already had three titles on the Taiwan LPGA Tour. “Actually I was pretty nervous today in my heart, inside myself. For the last part my heart was like, ‘boom, boom, boom,’ so I tried to stay calm,” she said. “It’s the first time I’ve played in a Ladies European Tour tournament so I feel it was a challenge to myself and made me play well. I did not have high expectations entering this week. I thought it would be a great result if I finished in the top 10.”
She rated her Xiamen Open win as the finest moment of her already successful career, having earned the silver medal at the Youth Olympics and Asian Games in 2014. Cheng became the sixth amateur to win on the Ladies European Tour and the fourth to win on the China LPGA, as the tournament was co-sanctioned. The last amateur to win on the LET was Lydia Ko at the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open in February 2013.
Cheng said: “I am excited that I finally won because LET players are very competitive. So far it’s my largest win. I played great this week. I should thank Orient Golf and CLPGA for the invitation extended to me.” Having held a three-way share of the lead overnight, Cheng took control of the tournament from the first hole, which she birdied to move one ahead of the field. She then birdied the third and fourth holes to go three strokes clear. Her only mistake was on the sixth green, where she three-putted, but she held her lead throughout, making further short birdie putts on holes nine and ten before coming in with eight pars on the back nine. The World No.22 amateur Cheng is one of the most exciting young players in golf and China LPGA Chairman TK Penn presented her with a cake on the 18th green to celebrate her achievement.