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2017 Taiwan LPGA Tour Kaohsiung Entrepreneur Association Ladies Open 29 Nov – 1 Dec First-Round Reca
Date:2017-11-29

Taiwan’s Tsai Pei Ying (蔡佩穎) and Thai native Ploychompoo Wilairungreung both returned opening-round 5-under 67s on Wednesday to sit atop the leaderboard at the TLPGA Tour’s Kaohsiung Entrepreneur Association Ladies Open.

Currently up in the second place on the 2017 Tour Money List, Chen Yu Ju (陳宇茹) of Taiwan registered a 68 and is tied with compatriot Chang Ching Ling (張靖翎), who is in search of a pro membership after this week. The TLPGA Pro Test is held concurrently at the Sunwood Lake Golf Club in Pingtong, Taiwan.

Tsai, an experienced Japan LPGA Tour member who just concluded the 2017 season no.40 on the Money Leaderboard, went back on home soil to play at the Sunwood Lake where “she grew up playing on”.

“I mainly trained on the Ta Kang Shan Golf Course, so I would say I was based in Kaoshiung but I’m actually a Pingtong native,” said Tsai, who started competitive golf when she was in the middle school. “So I’ve also played on the Sunwood Lake course many, many times. It felt really familiar, everything, right off the bat. I felt very comfortable out there. I was playing well.”

“I would say the right mindset on this course, is that you got to put the ball on the right place of the green,” Tsai shared her tips. “Don’t make yourself too hard with the putter, no three-putts, and you’ll get rewarded, or otherwise it can be potentially very tricky.”

Tsai carded five birdies en route to a bogey-free 67, citing the iron play was her strength today which earned her a chip-in birdie from 15 yards on the par-4 8th. The other four were picked up fairly easily from about 3-6 feet. The putting left a little to be desired, though, with 30 putts used and three missed birdie chances.

Co-leader Wilairungreung, holding a title already this year at the Taiwan Mobile Ladies Open, made six birdies and one bogey to turn in a 33-34 first-round 67. She hit 13 greens in regulation, needing only 26 putts overall and converting six of them on birdie tries, which included two longer ones on the 9th and 16th from more than 20 feet away.

This is the fourth year on the professional tour for the 21-year-old Wilairungreung. The win at the Taiwan Mobile Ladies Open was her second victory after winning on the China LPGA Tour. “The toughest part today for me is the greens. The grass is quite slow to my liking. I was trying really hard to get into the groove,” said Wilairungreung.

Amateur Chang Ching Ling, in her first attempt on the Pro Test, showed no sign of nerves and remained bogey-free throughout for a clean 68. “My second shots today helped me a lot,” said the 23-year-old Taiwanese. Chang made 14 greens in regulation and needed only 28 putts.

Just graduated from the Lamar University, Chang spent the past six years studying and playing varsity golf in the United States, but decided to come back to Asia to give it a go on the TLPGA and CLPGA Tour. “The food is a big problem. After all the years in the US, I’m still not fond of the food there,” Chang explained. “I kind of missed Asia in that sense, so I chose to come back trying to grow my career on my home Tour. My goal is to make a steady presence on the Japan Tour.”

Off to a dream start, Chen Yu Ju drained a 70-foot putt on the par-5 1st for birdie, the first of her five in total on Wednesday. She used 28 putts during her first-round display of 4-under 68. “My driver was not going in the rhythm I wanted until I’m on my inward nine,” Chen said. “But overall it’s pretty good in every aspect of the game.”

“I hope I can play well in the remainder of the season for that Money Winner honor. This is already my fourth year on the TLPGA Tour, and I’m proud to say I always exceeded my goals I set for myself,” Chen said. “This year, it’s even more special since I’m now just a spot away from the top. Thanks to Fubon Financial who started their sponsorship supports to me in October. Now I feel like I’m super motivated and ready to go on the next level.”

Players will tee up the second-round action tomorrow morning at 7:30. Final group of the day is set off to go at 9:20. A cut will be made to top 50 and ties after 36 holes on Thursday.

The Kaohsiung Entrepreneur Association Ladies Open celebrates a couple of firsts – the Sunwood Lake Golf Course will play host to the pro golfers on the TLPGA Tour for the first time in club history; meanwhile, this marks the first TLPGA event title-sponsored by the Kaohsiung Entrepreneur Association.

Apart from the 55 local Taiwanese women (11 amateurs and juniors included), a strong list comprised of 94 players representing eight countries has assembled, with Thailand sending its 24 elites, second most among the participating nations, alongside China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United States.

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