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2018 Taiwan LPGA Tour | Japan Taiwan Friendship Udon-Ken Ladies Golf Tournament First-Round Recap
Date:2018-10-12

Japan’s Minami Hiruta fired a 4-under 68 on Friday to take the early lead at the Japan Taiwan Friendship Udon-Ken Ladies Golf Tournament. The tournament belongs to the Japan LPGA’s Step-Up Tour, and is co-sanctioned by the TLPGA Tour, featuring a prize purse of JPY20,000,000.

Hana Wakimoto, TLPGA SAMPO Ladies Open winner this May, sit in a three-way tie for second. Lee Hsin (李欣) was currently the highest standing Taiwanese player on the leaderboard, who has a share of the fifth place with another eight players.

TLPGA Tour money leader Chen Yu-Ju (陳宇茹) and amateur Hou Yu-Chiang (侯羽薔) carded matching 71s to sit in a tie for fourteenth with twelve players.

Step-Up Tour member Hsieh Yu-Ling (謝瑀玲) used a even-par 72 to finish day 1 in a tie for 28th.

Lee, the best Taiwanese performer in the first round of the Japan Taiwan Friendship Udon-Ken Ladies Golf Tournament, went off to an ideal start, scoring four birdies through 11, with two of them on par5s on the 2nd and 6th. She made a third birdie on the 8th with a successful 8-footer and made the turn with a 3-under 33, before knocking in a fourth one on the 11th from 6 feet.

“I was playing some quality iron game. I think I made fourteen greens, but my putting wasn’t so great,” said Lee, whose 30 attempts on the greens left something to be desired despite avoiding three potential bogeys.

Her momentum was halted on the 14th, where she needed two shots to get onto the fairway after flying her tee shot into the left roughs, and another two shots to put the ball on the green. A two-putt double-bogey was about as low as she could muster. “If I could drive just a bit better, I have a feeling it would’ve been a great round. I hope I can do it tomorrow.” Lee will be trying to make the cut on Saturday for the first time in the second edition of the event.

Teen talent Hou Yu-Chiang’s 71 was comprised of four birdies, one bogey, and one double-bogey. Hou’s round began on the 10th hole, and dropped a shot immediately on the 11th. A birdie on the par-5 15th was offset by a missed bogey-putt on the 17th. She concluded her first nine holes with a 38.

After the turn, Hou raised the level of her putting accuracy, with an elevated confidence after making a 9-foot par putt on the 1st. She made two birdies along the way and picked up her fourth one of the day on the last hole (the 9th) to bring her score under-par. She needed 28 putts today.

“I have a good round. Driving was solid, missed just one fairway. But my iron game wasn’t too sharp. I didn’t actually have much to work with on the greens. That’s something I’ll need to improve in the second round,” Hou said, who lifted her maiden title at the TLPGA Ladies Open – Nan Pao champion in May.

The only multi-titlist on the TLPGA Tour this year, Chen Yu-Ju’s Friday opened with a bogey – the first of a trio of it on the scorecard, all resulted by fairway misses. “There were some pretty good scoring conditions. But I wasn’t driving well. Kind of lost the feel. Irons didn’t help much either on the second shots,” said Chen. “Glad my putter held up nicely. That 27-foot birdie putt I dropped on the 7th was a really pleasant surprise. I’m happy to make some great putts.”

Second round of play is set to begin on 7:45 a.m. in the morning from the first and tenth tee.

Co-sanctioned by the JLPGA’s Step-Up Tour and the TLPGA Tour, the tournament sees 78 local Japanese players and 28 TLPGA Tour campaigners in the field, who will be vying for a winner’s prize of JPY3,600,000 through three rounds, 54 holes of competition. OHK Okayama Broadcasting is the co-organizer. Hsieh Yu-Ling (72), Chen Szu-Han (陳思涵) (75), and Chen I-Wen (陳依妏) (76) are the three players holding memberships on both Tours, who will need to make the cut on Saturday to improve their rankings on the money lists.

Winner of the 2018 tournament will automatically be a sponsor exempt into the 2019 Fujisankei Ladies Classic (JLPGA Tour) and the Hitachi Ladies Classic (TLPGA Tour), and will be sent directly into the third-stage of the 2019 JLPGA Tour qualifying event, which will be held at the end of the 2018 season. A year’s worth of Nishino Kinryo Japanese Sake will also be awarded for Sunday’s champion.

Special prizes up for grabs include a JPY500,000 cheque, provided by Imabari Shipbuilding, for players to ace the 17th hole in the last round, as well as a JPY300,000 cheque, provided by Nishino Kinryo, for players to eagle the 18th hole.

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