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Thailand's Ajira Nualraksa held off Chinese amateurs Shi Yuting and Liu Yu to win the $50,000 Shanghai Classic on Saturday, the first tournament of the 2013 China LPGA Tour season.
Starting the day three shots off the lead, Ajira shot a final-round 69 at the Orient Sports and Country Club to beat second-leader Shi, who shot 73, by one stroke.
Liu closed with a 73 to finish third, three shots back.
Nualraksa finished at 4-under 212, earning $12,075.
As 15-year-old Shi struggled through an erratic round that included four birdies, two doubles and a bogey, Ajira, 22, carded a bogey five on the opening hole, then managed two birdies on both the front and back nines.
"I wanted to win," Ajira said after her first CLPGA Tour victory. "When I walked on the course I just concentrated on everything. But I didn't look at the amateurs or look at anybody's score, I just did my best and I made it.
"On the course I just calmed myself down. I just told myself don't think about the future, just concentrate and think positive."
Shi posted her second runner-up finish on the CLPGA. She cited poor club selection on the front nine as her downfall before coming alive on the back nine with three consecutive birdies starting at the 10th hole.
On the final hole she missed a 12-foot birdie putt that would have forced a playoff.
"That putt was very important. It was for my teacher who was my caddie this week, and for all the people who support me, root for me the whole week," she said. "I wanted to make it but I missed. I think it is all about my green reading. I feel disappointed. When I go back to the hotel I will re-check the whole day and try to figure out what went wrong.
Chinese veteran Yang Taoli (76) marked her return from the Japan Tour, tying for fourth with Thailand's Walailak Satarak (76), the first round co-leader, at seven shots off the pace.
The fifth year of the China LPGA Tour features more than 10 events culminating in the China Ladies Open in December in Xiamen, Fujian province. Next week, the Tour moves to Zhejiang province for the $50,000 Ningbo Challenge from April 4-6.
Thailand's Ajira Nualraksa poses with the trophy of Shanghai Classic, the first tournament of the 2013 China LPGA Tour season. Provided to China Daily
(China Daily 04/01/2013 page23)