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2018 Taiwan LPGA Tour | EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open First-Round Recap
Date:2018-05-11

 The 2018 EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open opened with a four-way tie at the top of the leaderboard after Friday’s first round. Taiwan’s Hsieh Yu-Ling (謝瑀玲), Chen Szu-Han (陳思涵), South Africa’s Connie Chen and Malaysia’s Winnie Ng all shot 5-under 67s at the Old Course of Fanling Hong Kong Golf Club to set the early pace.

 
Chinese Li Jiayun (黎佳韵) and Korean Jang So Young shared the fifth place with 4-under 68s. Taiwanese Lee Hsin (李欣), 2016 winner Tiffany Chan of Hong Kong, 2017 winner Supamas Sangchan and her Thai compatriot Jackie Chulya were another shot adrift in a tie for seventh.
 
Hsieh’s front-nine in the opening round at Fanling didn’t get much to cheer about as she parred her way through with a lone birdie on the eighth from three feet. However, she stepped up a gear after the turn. The second-year member on the Japan’s second-tier Step Up Tour made her second birdie of the day on the par-4 10th thanks to a precise read of a nine-footer. She then capitalized on the chances on both par-5s of the back-nine on 14th and 17th with chip-and-putt success; in between was a chip-in birdie on the 16th which Hsieh dubbed “lucky shot”.
 
“If not for that hit on the pin, that would definitely have been an overhit and great chance I would’ve probably left the 16th with a bogey because I hit it quite hard and it might just continue to slip way past the hole along the downhill,” said Hsieh.
 
After playing the Hitachi Ladies Classic in January, Hsieh moved to Thailand to train under the tutelage of a new coach from Korea. “I wasn’t feel particularly different game-wise, but mentally, I felt great improvement in my control of emotions, which reflected on my consistency,” said Hsieh. “It’s my third time playing in this event. I decided to not bring my regular caddie this time and learned to listen to trust my own judgement, trust how well I can execute the game plan, and most importantly, trust every single shot.”
 
Freshman on the Step Up Tour, Chen Szu-Han used a high-precision short game to set the low score 67. Coming fresh off a great week with an equal 11th finish two weeks ago in Japan, Chen was in high morale, helped also with a fact that she brought her father as caddie at Fanling. 
 
“It’s always comforting that dad is around. It was an awesome feeling to open with a lead,” said Chen, who needed only 26 putts in a run comprised of seven birdies and two bogeys
 
Chen nailed two chip-ins on the par-3s on 5th and 7th holes, displaying high confidence managing short approaches. With that mindset, she also converted three of the par-5s after perfect set-ups. Her longest successful putt was from 26 feet on the 2nd.
 
The other Taiwanese currently in the top-10 was Lee Hsin whose 3-under consisted of five birdies and two bogeys. “I didn’t drive well enough but I’m happy to compensate that with good second shots and especially my putting today,” said Lee, who made 12 greens and needed just 26 putts, both rewriting her personal best this season. “Thanks to my coach Huang Yu-Chen (黃玉珍) as my caddie to help me not to second-guess my decisions so I could stay in a pretty high spirit.”
 
Winnie Ng from Malaysia carded the most birdies (9) in the first round. She had four bogeys but remained on top at 5-under.
 
Because of the rain-soaked conditions overnight, the tournament decided to get the “preferred lies” rules in play.
 
The three-way co-sanctioned event by the TLPGA, China LPGA and the Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) will feature a purse up to US$150,000. A field of 120 professional ladies from 16 countries, led by 2017 winner Supamas Sangchan, made their ways to the three days, 54-hole tournament to vie for a champion’s prize of US$22,500. Sangchan closed Day 1 with four birdies and one bogey, sitting in a tie for seventh.
 
Home favorite and 2016 champion Tiffany Chan was also in equal seventh after carding five birdies and two bogeys. Chan freshly qualified for the US Women’s Open with a 13-shot victory just last week in Hawaii.
 
Arguably the most important women’s golf event in Hong Kong, the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open is the only official tournament with world ranking points on offer, and is now in its fourth-year partnership with the TLPGA.
 
The course for the 2018 EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open is set at 6,072 yards. There will be a cut after two rounds to send top-50 and ties into the final round on Sunday.
 
The Saturday play will begin at 6:50 a.m. for the morning flights and set off to go at 13:35 for the afternoon wave. The entry for the public is free.
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