Wollongong’s Tahnia Ravnjak has secured her first international professional card with a superb performance in Hainan Island, China.
The 24-year-old, professional for just over a month after a revered college career in the United States, led the Chinese LPGA Q-School almost from start to finish to land her full playing rights.
Ravnjak, of Cordeaux Heights in the Illawarra, had led the 54-hole event after opening rounds of 67-71, but ceded the lead briefly when Chinese amateur Zhang Yue closed in early on the back nine on the Dunes at Shenzhou Peninsula’s West Course.
But four birdies in the final seven holes restored the lead as Ravnjak won by three strokes with a 70 to finish eight under.
Taiwan's Peng Chieh (70) was third, six strokes back in the tournament where the top-30 players received their cards for the 2018 season.
Ravnjak earlier made a birdie four at the 450m second hole to get to seven under. But she then dropped shots with bogeys at holes four, seven and 10 to slide to four under.
Her collapse came as playing partner Zhang posted three birdies over the first eight holes to get to get six under. After the 16-year-old made a bogey six at the 488m y12th hole, Ravnjak pulled even with a birdie four for a two-shot swing to rejoin the lead.
As Zhang could do no better than par home through the final six holes, Ravnjak reeled off twin birdies on the 14th and 15th holes and then picked up another at the final to seal the win.
“I started off well today but made two easy bogeys on the front nine. I realised I have to make up more birdies coming in to finish strong," the New South Wales ace said.
“I was really happy with my golf this week. My swing was good, my putting was really good and I made a few Chinese friends here. A really happy ending.”
Ravnjak, briefly an assistant coach at after her great college career at Campbell University in North Carolina, said she would return home tomorrow to play the remainder of the ALPG Tour season before coming back to China.
"Being my first year as a pro I just really want to get as much experience as I can, play as many tournaments as I can. Hopefully I don't miss too many cuts.”