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2018 Taiwan LPGA Tour | CTBC Ladies Classic 29– 31 Mar First-Round Recap
Date:2018-03-29

Renuka Suksukont used a blistering front nine, which was actually her back nine as she began the round at the 10th tee, to turn in a 66 and take the first-round lead at the 2018 CTBC Ladies Classic, co-sanctioned by the TLPGA Tour and the China LPGA Tour. The Thai holds a two-shot edge over China’s Zhang Jienalin (張婕娜琳). The best performer among the TLPGA Tour campaigners is amateur Chen Hsuan (陳萱); the 19-year-old Taiwanese is in solo third, three shots behind at the RMB800,000 tournament.

CTBC Bank ambassador and 2016 CLPGA Tour money winner Shi Yuting (石昱婷) and Thai Parinda Phokan both sit four strokes off with 2-under 70s.

Taiwan’s Chen Yu-Ju (陳宇茹), who closed the 2017 TLPGA Tour season as high as no.2, carded a 35-36 first-round 71 that includes four birdies and three bogeys. She is now in a group of five players in equal sixth place.

Starting the day on the back nine of the Dragon Lake course, Suksukont was still finding her groove on the first nine holes, making two birdies and one bogey on the way before the turn; but once she did, she was unstoppable. The 23-year-old birdied Hole No.1, 2, 5, 6, and 8 and surged to an early lead that lasted till the end of the day.

“I was pleasantly surprised with my level of play. I even started to get a little nervous after I got down to 4-under today,” said Suksukont. “It was totally beyond expectation.”

Suksukont captured her maiden TLPGA Tour victory in December at the ICTSI Philippines Ladies Masters, which was jointly sanctioned by the TLPGA Tour, CLPGA Tour and the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, and concluded 2017 ranked no.6 on the TLPGA Tour and no.4 on CLPGA Tour money leaderboard. She finished in a tie for eighth just last week in Zhuhai at the Hengqin Phoenix Tree Building Orient Golf Challenge.

Chen Hsuan, who is playing her first tournament on the CLPGA Tour and first pro event in more than a year, said she played a loose schedule in 2017 in order to get fully prepared for the Summer World Universiade held in her home town Taipei, where she eventually won two silver medals for Taiwan in both team and individual disciplines; however, staying away from the Tour helped her simply relish the moment and find the desire again.

Chen admitted she felt nervous when she began at the 10th because of the long absence, but glad that she overcame the nerves in time when she made three birdies in six holes after the turn. The only other birdie came on her fifth hole on the 169-yard par-3 13th, where she almost made an ace with her 5-iron. A minor dip in concentration cost her the lone bogey on the day on the par-3 17th, on which she chose to tee off using her 4-iron but was cut short by the wind.

“I’m very happy with my first couple of shots today, good driver followed by pretty good second shots, too. I thought I only missed one fairway and three greens,” said Chen. “My putter still felt a bit rusty though. Needed 30 putts. It could be better.”

CTBC players Hsieh Yu-Ling (謝瑀玲) (76) and Yeh Hsin-Ning (葉欣寧) (79) struggled to find their form on Day 1 at the CTBC Ladies Classic. They will need to up their ante to in hopes to get themselves back in shooting range. The second-round play begins at 7:15 a.m. with the late groups starting at 12:00. Only the top 60 and ties after the day can move to Saturday’s final-round.

The 54-hole stroke-play tournament features 126 golfers (including 12 amateurs) from 14 countries competing for a purse of RMB800,000.

In its second edition after three years, the CTBC Ladies Classic continues to share a special cross-strait friendship with its status as a co-sanctioned event by the TLPGA Tour and the CLPGA Tour, title-sponsored by the Taiwan-based CTBC Bank.

The backdrop of the event – Guangzhou Dragon Lake Asian Games Course was designed by Davidson Golf Design Limited and opened in 2014, which is a 27-hole membership course set at 10,834 yards long, par-108.

The fairway adapts well to the landform and is proud of its conformity to real nature. Half of the landscape is made up of the lake and the other half of mountains. The competition layout has been set at 6,533-yard, par-72.

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