Ice-cool He wins snow-hit Faldo Series Kunming Championship
Kunming (January 28): He Xinyi defied unseasonal icy conditions to emerge victorious in the snow-struck ninth edition of the Faldo Series Kunming Championship.
For the first time in Faldo Series Asia history, two full rounds of a tournament were wiped out by snow which blanketed the award-winning Lakeview Golf Club course.
The modern capital city and transportation hub of China’s south-western Yunnan Province, Kunming is known for its temperate year-round climate.
However a chilling cold snap threatened to force organisers to abandon the 20th and final stop of the record-breaking Faldo Series Asia season without a ball being struck in anger.
To their relief, though, temperatures rose sufficiently for the club’s greenkeeping staff to succeed in getting the course into suitably good condition for the competitors to complete 18 holes and ensure a champion was crowned.
In a fittingly dramatic climax, He kept her cool to make a birdie at the par-five 18th hole on the acclaimed Faldo Design layout to sign for a 76.
That gave her a one-stroke victory from Wang Siyu, her only rival in the Girls’ Under-21 segment. They were the only two players in the field to break 80.
He can now look forward to a trip to Mission Hills in Shenzhen from March 2-4 to take part in the 10th anniversary Faldo Series Asia Grand Final, to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo.
Joining her for the World Amateur Golf Ranking event will be Chai Yuxi, winner of the Girls’ Under-16 title, and Ma Shouneng [Boys’ Under-21] and Pu Xi [Boys’ Under-16], both of whom qualified after topping their respective age-group categories on countback.
Ma, runner-up in the Boys’ Under-18 last year, survived a tense head-to-head duel with Lu Xianzeyuan, edging through after both players fired 81s.
A three-shot swing in Lu’s favour at 16 meant Ma trailed by two. But a birdie three to Lu’s bogey-five at 17 squared the scores. Both parred 18 but Ma was declared the winner after an inward 40, one better than Lu.
It was equally tense in the Under-16s where Pu, Liu Peilin and Zhang Zhongyu all returned with 80s.
While Zhang covered the final nine holes in 42, Pu and Liu carded identical returns of 40-40. Ultimately, Pu prevailed by virtue of a better score on the final six holes.
In keeping with Sir Nick’s drive to grow the game, a mixed under-12 category attracted more than a dozen players with pride of place going to Fan Peiqi with a 93.
Six-time Major championship winner Sir Nick, Britain’s most successful golfer, said: “Congratulations to all those at Lakeview Golf Club who made it possible to put on an 18-hole tournament in such difficult circumstances. They deserve great credit.
“Congratulations, also, to all of the players who completed their round. Being able to play well in all types of conditions is essential for those who harbour ambitions of playing the game professionally. Their experience at Lakeview will, I’m sure, stand them in good stead for future challenges.”
Supported by The R&A and Mission Hills and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation, the 2015-16 Faldo Series Asia campaign has stretched over 11 months and included 20 events in 17 countries.
Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.
Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year. Past winners include Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, both multiple Major champions who have held the world number one ranking.
Faldo Series Kunming Championship, leading final scores:
81 – Ma Shouneng; Lu Xianzeyuan
83 – Chao Haoran
84 – Yang Ruyao
80 – Pu Xi; Liu Peilin; Zhang Zhongyu
83 – Zongzeng Haoqi
88 – Li Zhengxin
76 – He Xinyi
77 – Wang Siyu
87 – Chai Yuxi
97 – Hu Jiyu
93 – Fan Peiqi
97 – Xiong Jinghuan