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2017 Taiwan LPGA Tour | CTBC Ladies Open 21– 23 Dec First-Round Recap
Date:2017-12-21

Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan and one of the sponsor exempt, 17-year-old amateur Hou Yu-Chiang (侯羽薔) charged to the top of the leaderboard with 1-under-par 71s in the first round of the CTBC Ladies Open. They were the only players out of 108 who carded sub-par scores under cold and gusty weather at the Orient Golf & Country Club. The 2017 CTBC Ladies Open is the last event on the 2017 TLPGA Tour.

Taiwanese Yu Pei-Ling (余珮琳) and China’s Pan Yanhong (潘艷紅) sit one shot back at equal third with even-par performances. Defending champion Teresa Lu (盧曉晴) and Tsai Pei-Ying (蔡佩穎), who are both seasoned Japan LPGA Tour players, were two shots off the lead in a tie for fifth.

This is only the second appearance in this event for teenager Hou Yu-Chiang. Then 15-year-old, Hou didn’t make the cut here two years ago but had sharpened her skill set and surprised with a precise game on Thursday that could have put her in sole clubhouse lead had it not been a bogey in the par-5 18th.

She played patiently, making it 100% on fairways hit, and picked off four birdies without taking too many risks. Hou also showed brilliant accuracy off her short game, which contributed to some comfortable chances on the greens. Half of her four birdies today were made on the par-5s with nice chip-and-putt combinations.

“It was very windy and the wind was blasting from all the directions,” said Hou. “I just kept telling myself to loosen up and tried to hit as free as I could. I went with bigger clubs than I normally would choose on a couple of holes to fight the wind. It worked pretty well. There were a few mistakes here and there, three bogeys, but I just knew that it wouldn’t be easy for all of us, so it was okay. Remaining composed and relaxed was key.”

Graduated from college this summer, rookie pro Tiffany Chan also turned in a scorecard with four birdies and three bogeys to rise atop in windy conditions. However, it wasn’t an easy day at all for the Hong Kong native. “I thought I caught a little bit of cold after yesterday’s pro-am. The wind was really bad, my nose was running all day,” said Chan. “I hope I can feel better tomorrow but I’m glad my body held up and I think I played a solid round.” She missed just two fairways and needed only 29 putts, including one on the par-5 10th that eventually sank for birdie from 33 feet.

She also made the wind in her favor and let a beautiful curve on the second shot with her 9-iron on the par-4 11th hole, where she birdie from six feet, making a great candidate for the shots of the day.

Having garnered one victory in last year’s Hong Kong Ladies Open as an amateur, Chan moved back to the U.S. this summer to train and open the career as a pro and enjoyed fairly quick success. She now holds an LPGA Tour card for 2018 after the final round of the final stage of LPGA Qualifying Tournament held just two weeks ago. Coming in the event as a direct entrant after finishing 24th on the 2017 Symetra Tour, Chan completed among the top 2 and became the first ever Hong Kong woman to qualify for the LPGA.

World No.31 Lu opened her title defense campaign with a 73 comprised of five birdie, four bogeys and one double-bogey. She reached 2-under after fifteen holes but dropped three shots in the next two holes. She made a bogey after missing the green on the par-3 16th not long before she found herself in trouble again on the 17th where she took a water penalty. She blamed the loss of concentration due to the unpredictability of the wind. “I thought I was swinging okay, the game plan was well-executed, but sometimes the wind was just so random you didn’t know where it would take you to,” said Lu, who hoped to cut down the errors in the remaining rounds but was overall happy with the level of her game.

Yu was another victim to the frustrating wind who suffered a double-bogey. “You almost didn’t want to wait or spend too much time reading the lines out there. You just wanted to make the hit and get off quickly so you wouldn’t have to take the cold wind,” said Yu. “What made the difference was how well you are able to capitalize on the stronger clubs to minimize the effect of the wind.”

China’s Pan Yanhong registered a 37-35 even-par 72, tied with Yu for third. 2015 champion Budsabakorn Sukapan sit in a tie for 7th with five other players.

This is the sixth edition of the CTBC Ladies Open. The winner on Saturday will pocket NT$1,000,000. The 54-hole, stroke-play format shall apply in this China LPGA co-sanctioned event with world ranking points on offer.

Second-round play is scheduled to start at 7:15 in the morning and the last group is set off to go at 10:05. A cut will be made on Friday to only the top 50 and ties who can move into the final Saturday.

 

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