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2017 Taiwan LPGA Tour | Kaohsiung Entrepreneur Association Ladies Open 29 Nov – 1 Dec
Date:2017-11-30

Thai youngster Nattagate Nimitpongkul used a low-round 67 on Thursday to move atop the leaderboard, sharing the place with Taiwan’s Chen Yu Ju (陳宇茹) (68) at an 8-under 136 after the second round of Kaohsiung Entrepreneur Association Ladies Open.

Huang Ching (黃靖), carding a second-round 68 to sit solo third with one shot back, led a group of seven players, who are looming to hunt down the title and a NT$540,000 winner prize check in Friday’s final round within just three shots behind the leading duo.

Japan LPGA member Tsai Pei Ying (蔡佩穎) (71), amateur Chang Ching Ling (張靖翎) (70) and Thailand’s Saranporn Langkulgasettrin (69) are in a three-way tie for fourth at 138. Another shot adrift is a Thai trio of Wanchana Poruangrong (69), Chonlada Chayanun (69) and first-round leader Ploychompoo Wilairungrueng (72).

Chen Yu Ju, currently no.2 on the TLPGA Tour Money List, is setting herself up nicely for the crown and the potential year-end Money Winner honor with her bogey-free 4-under 68. If she can hold her position tomorrow, she will narrow the gap to just about NT$150,000 on leader Lee Min (李旻). “It will be my fourth time going to the final round in the lead, but I gave myself too much expectation every time and I got too nervous,” said Chen. “So I told myself before the day to play as if this is the final already. I hope this will help me to have better control on the game tomorrow.”

“I felt like I was putting okay, with the fact that my iron didn’t feel as sharp as I wanted,” Chen commented on her level. She needed 29 putts. “I’ll hopefully work out those tiny details and concentrate on how to play, rather than how to win.”

An almost flawless putting display boosted Thailand’s Nimitpongkul into winning position. She used an impressive 24 putts, including two 21-footers on 7th and 13th, to wrap up the day with five birdies in the pocket, no bogey, contributing to a low-round 67.

“I’ve been working pretty hard,” said Nimitpongkul, whose recent intensive training program, with running regimen combined, lasts six to seven hours a day and six days a week. “It’s been pretty tough, but it’s satisfying to see the transformation. I’m looking forward to the final round.”

Nimitpongkul turned pro at the age of just 15. Now 21, the just-graduated mostly plays on her home Tour as well as the tournaments in China. The best previous showing on the TLPGA Tour for Nimitpongkul was a T5 at the Taiwan Mobile Ladies Open this year.

Huang Ching turned in a 68 to stay in contention for her first career victory. She had two bogeys through 13 but made a late rise as she holed two important birdie putts from 25 feet on 15th and 17th and picked up another shot on the par-4 last. She totaled 30 putts. “For sure I hope I can carry this momentum and win. I feel great about my game at the moment,” said Huang.

Tsai Pei Ying, who just finished her 2017 season on the JLPGA Tour at no.40 on the Money Leaderboard, carded two birdie and one bogeys for a 1-under 71 and is now 2 strokes back of lead. Also in the tie for fourth is amateur Chang Ching Ling, who’s in her first attempt on the concurrent Pro Test. She would just need a steady performance on Friday to gain her TLPGA membership.

Chang finished T8 at last week’s Qualification Test at the Suncity Golf & Country Club to have earned herself a full TLPGA Tour card. Hitachi Ladies Classic in January is set to be her first tournament as a pro.

59 players made the cut at 4-over 148. Final-round action will start at 7:30 on Friday. Leader’s group sets off at 8:40. The Kaohsiung Entrepreneur Association Ladies Open marks the first TLPGA event title-sponsored by the Kaohsiung Entrepreneur Association.

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