ZHUHAI, China, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Chonlada Chayanun earned her first victory as a pro on Saturday when the big-hitting Thai emerged from a five player play-off to claim the Hengqing Phoenix Tree Building Orient Golf Challenge title in southern Guangdong.
With Thai Wanchana Poruangrong (70), South Korean Seo Ji-hyun (68) and China's Sui Xiang (71) and Liu Ying (66) also finishing on five-under 211 through 54 holes of regulation play at the China LPGA Tour event, Chonlada (69) quickly ended it with a birdie at the first extra hole.
"I am really happy now, I can't express how happy I am. I put in a lot of hard work and it worked," said the 25-year-old Chonlada, a third-year pro from Nakhon Ratchasima province in northeast Thailand.
"This is my first play-off since I turned pro. I was a little nervous when I stood on the 18th tee. I tried to calm myself down and tried to focus on what I was doing. I tried to do my best."
Starting the day four strokes off the lead, Chonlada quickly went to work with birdies at the second and seventh holes before dropping a stroke at the ninth to make the turn at three-under. The Iowa State grad then reeled off consecutive birdies starting at the 12th hole before making bogey at the 14th hole. A key birdie at the last got her into the playoff.
As the wind continued to blow as it had done throughout the tournament, the narrow par-four, 329-yard 18th hole with water on the left and trees on the right of the fairway proved an ideal test to decide the winner.
With Sui and Luo making par at the hole, Chonlada used a three-wood off the tee, landing about 90 yards out from the green on the left side. With the wind in her face, she hit a near-perfect pitching wedge, landing her ball two yards from the pin. She then made her birdie putt and waited as Seo and Wanchana, playing in the group behind, could only muster par.
"My irons and putts are good today, my shots were good," said Chonlada who earned RMB75,000 for the win. "I was a little nervous because the fairways here are a little bit narrow. This year, I will try to be top 10 in every event."
Other scores saw Thai Pavarisa Yoktuan shoot a tournament low seven-under 65 on the final day to finish in equal sixth with compatriot Wannasiri Sirisampant (70) at four-under 212.
Hwang Ye-nah, the overnight leader from South Korea, ballooned to a three-over 75 to finish in equal eighth with Thai Renuka Suksukont (70).
Prima Thammaraks, the first round co-leader from Thailand, closed with a 73 to finish equal 10th, while China's Shi Yuting struggled to a 75 to sit a shot further back.
Zhao Zhimeng (71) was the top amateur as the Shenzhen teenager finished on one-under 215 in equal 13th place.
Phoenix Tree Orient Golf Club is a 6,278-yard, par-72 layout designed by TK Pen.
Hengqing Phoenix Tree Building Orient Golf Challenge third round leading scores (China unless stated; * denotes amateur)
+ Chonlada Chayanun won on the first hole of a five-player playoff
211 – Chonlada Chayanun+ (Thailand) 70-72-69, Sui Xiang 69-71-71,
Seo Ji-hyun (South Korea) 69-74-68, Wanchana Poruangrong (Thailand) 67-74-70, Liu Ying 74-71-66
212 – Pavarisa Yoktuan (Thailand) 75-72-65, Wannasiri Sirisampant (Thailand) 70-72-70
213 – Renuka Suksukont (Thailand) 76-67-70, Hwang Ye-nah (South Korea) 68-70-75
214 – Liu Yiyi 71-74-69, Zhang Jienalin 71-72-71, Prima Thammaraks (Thailand) 67-74-73
215 – Zhou Jiayi 71-73-71, Zhao Zhimeng* 76-68-71, Shi Yuting 71-69-75
216 – Liu Yan 69-76-71