Chinese trio teeing up Singapore success

Across a 54-hole stroke-play format that includes a final-round top-60 cut, 132 players will battle for a $100,000 prize purse at Laguna National's Masters course.


From left: Shi Yuli, Ji Yuai and Ni Zixin will go for glory in Singapore this week. Provided to China Daily

July 7, 2023

BEIJING – Despite being far from home, Chinese professionals Shi Yuli, Ji Yuai and amateur Ni Zixin are looking forward to stealing the limelight this week at Laguna National Golf Resort Club in Singapore.

The China Ladies Professional Golf Association (CLPGA) will stage the inaugural Singapore Ladies Masters at the club from Thursday to Saturday.

Across a 54-hole stroke-play format that includes a final-round top-60 cut, 132 players will battle for a $100,000 prize purse at Laguna National’s Masters course.

The tournament, comprising professionals and amateurs, will be headlined by some of the top players on the CLPGA Order of Merit — current leader Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong of Thailand, third-placed Shi Yuli and sixth-placed Ji Yuai.

Shi Yuli, who has a world ranking of 616th, will be competing in Singapore for the second time after a tied-44th finish at the Singapore Women’s Open in December 2022.

The 21-year-old said: “The weather here is excellent, the golf course is beautiful, and it offers a strong challenge. The fairways are narrow, and the greens are small, but the overall condition of the course is excellent.

“This week, I will try my best to hit the fairways and improve my success rate in saving shots around the greens. I will focus on my approach shots and putting.

“I will do my best to play my own game and, of course, strive for a better position (on the order of merit).”

Shi Yuli is aiming to follow in the footsteps of her elder sister, Shi Yuting, by competing on Japan’s LPGA Tour via the qualifying school.

Ji Yuai believes the CLPGA Tour is a great platform for China’s female golfers.

“The CLPGA is very dear to us. For many Chinese golfers, it has helped us progress through our different stages — from youth to amateur to professional,” the 18-year-old said.

“The CLPGA is my first main tour, and becoming a member of the CLPGA has been my goal since I started learning golf.”

Ji, who is a CLPGA rookie, is bidding to win her first tour title and is targeting a top-three finish this week. However, she is wary about taking on Laguna National’s tricky Masters course. “This course does not really suit me as my strength lies in driving distance, but this course requires accuracy due to the narrow fairways,” she said.

“I expect to use my three-wood off the tee on some occasions to manage that and I’ll do my best to perform well.”

Having witnessed countrywoman Yin Ruoning claim her first major title at June’s Women’s PGA Championship, Ji says China’s new generation of female golfers are ready to make their mark on the global stage.

“Yin Ruoning’s championship win proves the strength of Chinese golf and shows the power of the younger generation to more people,” she said.

Leading China’s amateur contingent in Singapore is 15-year-old Ni Zixin, who made waves by becoming the youngest CLPGA champion at 14, when she won the Golf Liquor Challenge in August 2022.

“I think the fairways are really narrow and not so wide, so it will be tough. I played an 18-hole practice round on Monday and the green speed is actually pretty fast,” Ni said.

“Besides hitting fairways, controlling my speed around the greens will be pretty important for me. I will spend more time practicing around the greens on my chipping and putting.”

Singapore has been a happy hunting ground for Ni. She finished tied-13th among an 85-strong field at March’s Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship in the Lion City.

“The Amateur Asia-Pacific was very tough for me physically because we had to push our own golf carts. It was also a four-day tournament. I think it helps me (for the Ladies Masters) because the weather is the same,” she said.

Ni intends to take the college path to the pro ranks and eventually hopes to compete on the LPGA Tour, just like her idol Nelly Korda.

“I’m not in the best physical shape right now because I just arrived earlier this week from the United States on a long-haul flight with many layovers,” she explained.

“Overall, I think this course will be a very tough challenge. I’ve never played it before and I’ll have to adjust to the course conditions. I’ll try my best.”

The Singapore Ladies Masters is the fifth leg of the 2023 CLPGA season following stops in Tianjin, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province.

scroll to top