The field’s chances of overthrowing Shanshan Feng as the reigning queen of Omega Dubai Ladies Masters was literally blown in the wind yesterday as the Chinese world No4 marched to her third straight title – and fourth in five appearances – with utmost ease in the end.
Things did not look good for Feng after the second round of the tournament reduced to 54 holes as she struggled to get to terms with her putting. Two-under par for 36 holes is not something you usually associate with her at the Majlis course, where she averaged better than five-under par for each round in her previous three wins.
However, when she teed up in the morning, the sight of the tree canopy lining the first fairway swinging wildly in 20-25 mph gust lifted her spirit immensely.
“I knew it was going to be windy today and I knew that playing in the wind is one of my strongest parts,” said Feng who made four birdies on either sides of the golf course.
“So even though I was five behind, I always thought that maybe I would still have a chance to win this week and I tried my best. Eight-under was a pretty good score. I am happy that I brought my A game along.”
The 64 was just one short of the course record, and only one of three rounds in the 60s yesterday. It took her tally to 10-under par, two shots better than the second-placed Charley Hull of England, who was equally sizzling in posting a bogey-free seven-under par 65.
India’s 18-year-old phenomenon Aditi Ashok continued to superb run of form, finishing tied third at six-under par alongside England’s Florentyna Parker. This was the seventh top-10 finish for her in eight starts since the Olympics.
Overnight leader Felicity Johnson, collapsed after a brilliant start that saw her birdie the second and eagle the third, slipping to tied seventh place at four-under par following a 75.
In all her previous wins (2012, 2014 and 2015), Feng won while leading by five or more shots going into the final round. But she had the wind, and her putter – which finally started to behave – to thank.
“I think if there is strong wind, the quality of shots are pretty important and I think that’s what I’m good at. My ball-striking most of the time is pretty solid and I can control the trajectory in the wind. I know that it will actually bother the other girls a lot,” said the Guangzhou native, who made four birdies in a row from the second hole onwards, and then three from the ninth hole.
“I didn’t play super well the first two days as my putting was kind of lost and I’m very happy that I was able to putt well today and make a lot of birdies.
“I made small adjustments in my posture while putting. I think I found the most comfortable way to putt again. I was misjudging the speed the first day. Yesterday, I got the speed better. Today I got the speed and the line better.”
The 21-year-old Hull also got off to a fine start, making four birdies in her first six holes.
“It is a good way to end the year. So it was fun,” said Hull. “I am (kicking myself) that I wasn’t able to concentrate the first two days. But I kind of woke up today.
“I told my caddie yesterday in the round that I can’t get into it. And he said, just slap yourself. I think I did that.”
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