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2019 Taiwan LPGA Tour | Hitachi Ladies Classic First-Round Recap
Date:2019-01-11

Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan and Thai Nanthikarn Raksachat shot 5-under 67s in the first round of the Hitachi Ladies Classic, which was also the first official 18-holes in worldwide professional events in the new 2019 season.

Four-time winner Pornanong Phatlum and Taiwan’s Huang Ching (黃靖) were one shot behind at 68. A group of five sit another shot back at 69, including 5-time LPGA Tour major champion Yani Tseng (曾雅妮), JPLGA members Babe Liu (劉嬿), Phoebe Yao (姚宣榆), and Thailand’s Chonlada Chayanun and Parinda Phokan.

Tiffany Chan’s 31 on the back nine was the lowest in tournament history. Front-nine leader Chen Yu-Ju (陳宇茹) also rewrote tournament records of lowest front-nine score with a 31. A 15-year-old Chang Ya-Chun (張雅淳) in 2016 made the turn with score of 31, but it was not listed as an official record under the “preferred lies” rule.

“I came here early to try to get myself quickly into some match rhythm but still I felt a bit rusty when I started,” said Chan, who turned pro in 2017 after she graduated from college. “I missed a couple of short putts on the front nine, not playing too well, but I’m glad things became easier on the back nine. I made some very good birdies.” Chan picked up five shots after the turn on what became an ideal day for scoring at the Orient Golf & Country Club.

Chan has held one TLPGA Tour title at the 2016 Hong Kong Ladies Open. She qualified to play full-season on the LPGA Tour in 2018 and 2019 but hasn’t been able to produce much highlights. Chan is a sponsor exempt into her first Hitachi Ladies Classic this week.

Huang Ching made five birdies and one bogey on her way to a first-round 67. With 16 greens in regulation, Huang set up some nice birdie chances for herself, needing just one putt on seven holes. The only bogey came on the sixth hole where she three-putted. The longest successful putt was from 24 feet. She totaled 30 attempts on the green.

This is the fourth visit to the Hitachi Ladies Classic for Huang. Her best finish here was a T22.

2018 has been a high for Huang since turning pro in 2014 with two TLPGA Tour victories and one China LPGA Tour win. She finished 2018 as high as no.6 on the TLPGA Tour money list.

Looking for a fifth title in the 11th edition of the Hitachi Ladies Classic, Thai star Phatlum missed only one fairway and three greens, stringing five birdies in the first round today, offset by just one bogey. Two birdies in a row on the 11th and 12th, needing just one putt on each hole, was the highlight of her round.

“I was badly sick this time last year and so disappointed not being able to come,” said Phatlum. “I miss playing here and it’s awesome to see my Thai and Taiwanese friends after a long break. There is a bit of pressure to do well but I’m just really happy to finally come back.”

Yani Tseng (曾雅妮), the most loved player with a huge crowd following her all day, scored seven birdies but dropped four shots along the way. “I was driving okay, making 16 greens, but again my putter was the weak link,” said Tseng. “I have to admit it’s a mental thing. The shorter the putt is, the more uncomfortable I am. But I have to keep believing.” Tseng made three three-putt, and missed five putts within four inches.

“I set my goal before the round to make at least six birdies, which I did, but there were too many missed shots. I think I’m adjusting better and better, mentally and physically. I feel good in this tournament and I hope I’ll do better in the next rounds,” Tseng said.

Tied with Tseng was former runner-up Babe Liu, who had four birdies and one bogey on her first-round scorecard. “I was experimenting a new putting but wasn’t quite in control, so I went back to my old way of putting and I felt more confident,” said Liu. “I was pretty close a few times. I really hope I can win it this time.”

2018 TLPGA Tour money winner Chen Yu-Ju got her day rolling with five birdies on the front nine, setting the tournament record. She made another birdie on the 11th to go 6-under but wound up carding a disappointing 70 after going birdie, double-bogey, bogey on the 14th to 16th. Chen fell into a tie for 11th with Hou Yu-Sang (侯羽桑) and 2016 winner Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul. Defending champion
Supamas Sangchan was in equal 25th carding a 72.

The 2019 edition is the 11th staging of the Hitachi Ladies Classic, presented by Hitachi Ltd., Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning Taiwan Co., Ltd., featuring a NT$10 million prize purse. The winner emerging from 108 golfers from seven countries will take away a NT$2.5 million check.

Annual proceeds from the tournament and an equal bonus from Hitachi will be used to benefit nine local charities.

Second-round play starts at 7:45 in the morning from the first and tenth tees. A cut will be made to only the top 60 and ties at the end of Saturday.
 

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