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2019 Taiwan LPGA Tour | TLPGA & Royal Open 30 Aug - 1 Sep Final-Round Recap
Date:2019-09-01

Thai Nattagate Nimitpongkul posted a steady final-round 67 on Sunday at the Royal Kuan-Hsi Golf Club to emerge victorious at the 17th annual TLPGA & Royal Open.

Nimitpongkul’s 54-hole total of 9-under-par 213 is one shot better than Korean Park Jin-Hee, rewarding her with a winning check worth NT$1.5 million. Park, playing in her first TLPGA & Royal Open, received NT$760,000.

Babe Liu (劉嬿) used a course-record-matching 63 on Sunday to surge up 41 places, finishing in solo third on 7-under.

Nimitpongkul, who started Sunday with two shots off the lead on 3-under, raced to 8-under and co-lead with Park through 11 holes after scoring three consecutive birdies. Overnight leader Parinda Phokan made a double-bogey on the 10th and trailed by four shots already at that point.

Nimitpongkul and Park both parred the 12th hole before play was interrupted by rain at 14:11.

The sky cleared up two hours later as Nimitpongkul remained in high spirit, snatching a birdie right away on the 13th, whereas Park seemed to be losing her early magic when she made four birdies on her outward nine; she dropped shots on 13th and 14th and fell behind by three shots with only four holes to go.

Despite a scare when Nimitpongkul’s tee shot on the par-3 17th found the pond, she managed to minimize the damage by setting up an easy 2-footer on the second try and leaving with a bogey. Nimitpongkul kept her cool to make three pars on the other holes to conclude with the win – it marks her maiden victory in her 8-year career.

“I think the turning point was when I made that long putt for par on the 14th, from 21 feet, which gave me a dose of confidence for the remaining holes,” said Nimitpongkul, who has been so close yet so far to winning, having played in the victory-deciding play-offs on more than five occasions, as she recalled, on the TLPGA Tour, China LPGA Tour, Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, as well as on her home tour.

Her putting was exceptional today, using only 24 attempts on the greens, and key to her victory. She made a total of six birdies.

Babe Liu is a big momentum player, given how she could produce tremendous rounds when she is confident, as shown in the Tainan Professional Golf Ladies Open last year, where she made ten birdies in the second round and rewrote TLPGA Tour 18-hole scoring record with a 62. And she found that spark again on Sunday at the Royal Kuan-Hsi Golf Club.

Starting on the 10th tee, Liu got her birdie hunt going with four consecutive birdies from 15th to 18th.

After the turn, the 26-year-old tallied two more pairs of birdies between 2nd to 3rd and 5th to 6th, before she scored her ninth birdie on the 8th hole (her 17th of the day) to tie the course record set by Hou Yu-Sang (侯羽桑) in the 2017 event.

“I had a 7-footer for birdie on my last hole, which was totally makeable,” said Liu. “Just a little pity that I missed it! But I was hitting so freely and every part of my game was clicking. It felt really good.” She needed just 25 putts in the final round.

The low-amateur title was won by Chen Ling-Jie (陳伶潔), who registered a final-round 70 to finish in a tie for fourth on 6-under with 2016 champion Lin Tzu-Chi (林子麒) and Hearn Aretha Pan of Malaysia.

Chen Ling-Jie, 19, a college sophomore who based her training at the Tsai Hsing Golf Club, earned one victory in each of the recent seasons on the amateur circuit and had been preparing to transition into the pro tour in 2020.

“I took a lot of positives from this week. I can now really believe in myself that I can compete with the best girls and not to get too nervous when I’m in difficult situations,” said Chen, who made two challenging birdie putts on the 16th, from 54 feet, and 17th in a row to surpass 15-year-old talent Wu Chia-Yen (吳佳晏) as the best-finishing amateur.

Phokan, the winner of this year’s Hitachi Ladies Classic and the SAMPO Ladies Open, closed with a disappointing 73 to wrap up the week in a tie for seventh at 211.

Defending champion Chen Yu-Ju (陳宇茹) carded a 1-under 71, ending up in a tie for tenth at 212 with Wu Chia-Yen, Jessica Peng (彭婕), Doris Chen (陳彥寧), and Thailand’s Ornniti Jullasigkee.

The TLPGA & Royal Open is one of the most historic events and the first internationally open tournament on the TLPGA Tour, inaugurated in 2002. The prize purse of the 2019 event saw a huge increase from NT$6 million to 8 million, which is the second richest among all tournaments (apart from the co-sanctioned events) on the yearly schedule.

 

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