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HSBC China Junior Open: Hong Kong's Konstantin Liu earns breakthrough, Jutanugarn sisters drive Thailand to team victory

Sunday 31 st January 2010, Haikou, Hainan Island, China

Konstantin Liu Lok-Tin (HSBC China Junior Golf Program )

Hong Kong teenager Konstantin Liu Lok-Tin emerged from the shadow of better known compatriots Stephen Lam and Jason Hak by winning his first title on foreign soil when he claimed the Group A Boys title at the HSBC China Junior Open at the Meilan Golf Club on Hainan Island.

Liu reeled off nine consecutive pars on the back nine to see off the challenge of Thailand's Poom Saksansin and win the most important trophy of his short career by three shots.

"It feels very significant. it feels amazing!" said Liu

"It'll help me play my best in other overseas tournaments. It's a breakthrough and it will help me be more confident."

The 16-year-old German-born Sheung Shui resident added that he hopes winning the HSBC China Junior Open will encourage his mother to start dreaming the dream of becoming a tournament professional, which he shares with his Dad, John Liu Yuen-Ming, the owner of the Elite Golf Academy, based at the Whitehead driving range.

"Hong Kong parents always say focus on study and my Mum did the same. My parents have supported me more and more as I've got better. Now that I've won this tournament maybe my Mum will fully support me. I think studying is important, but I love golf. You can always study later, but you can't stop golf," Liu said.

Thailand Team Champions (HSBC China Junior Golf Program )

Meanwhile sisters Moriya and Ariya Jutanugarn helped Thailand take the team title by winning the Girls' Group A and Group B trophies. The pair, who were both runners-up in their respective age groups in last year's Callaway Junior World Golf Championships in San Diego, California, have won so many times together they've lost count. So while the thought of another matching pair of trophies for the mantelpiece was nothing new, 15-year-old Moriya said her first taste of golf in the "Middle Kingdom" was significant.

"In the future there will be more and more tournaments (in China) and this is my first time in China, so it's been a good experience," she explained after beating Chinese Taipei's Liu Yi-Chen by two shots.

Moriya's next big engagement will be caddying for her younger sister Ariya at the first event on the LPGA's spring swing, the Honda LPGA Thailand in Pattaya, which precedes the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore. She warmed up with a three-round total of 199 - her best ever performance - and a victory by a massive 16 strokes over China's Liu Yu.

"It's great! It's my best ever score; 17-under after three days. The course is wide so I just stayed out of trouble. This is really good preparation for playing with the LPGA players. I'm glad that everyone has played well this week. We've all contributed to the team winning," said 14-year-old Ariya.

The Bangkok-based Jutanugarn girls first sprung to attention of the international golf fraternity when Ariya, then aged 11, qualified for the 2007 Honda LPGA Thailand. With Moriya on her bag, she amused the international media of tales of the two of them bickering, as sisters do, all the way round the course. Asked whether they'll be arguing their way around again this year, Moriya grinned and said just one word. "Maybe!"

Ratanon Whannasrichan ( HSBC China Junior Golf Program)

Also contributing to Thailand's win was Ratanon Whannasrichan, who added the Boys B HSBC China Junior Open trophy to the Singha World Junior Championships title he won in Thailand last November. With a commanding second-round lead he shot a one-over par 73 to claim an eight-shot win over China's Li Yuan and Zhang Jin.

"I played some of my best golf and this is the best score I've ever shot over three days. I've hit a peak. I'm in top form. It's because my approach shots and putting have improved. I felt I could really control the ball and draw it anywhere, so I didn't have to aim anywhere else but just right of the pin and then hit it," said the 14-year-old from Chantaburi.

In Group C, one of China's most promising younger players, Shi Yuting, finally got a win after finishing second twice in the tournament. Shi, who proudly declared that her teacher had helped her choose Lucy as her western name, claimed the 11 to 12 age group and in the process recorded her tenth win in just two seasons of the HSBC National Junior Championship.

"I have my certificates in frames in the living room and I've filled half the wall. I'm really happy. I've really enjoyed the tournaments and I'm really happy that HSBC have given me the opportunity to be champion so many times," she said, name-checking the sponsor like a seasoned pro.

Group C for the boys went to Chinese Taipei's Hsiang Yu-Chuan.



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