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2019 Taiwan LPGA Tour | Hitachi Ladies Classic Second-Round Recap
Date:2019-01-12

2018 TLPGA Tour money winner Chen Yu-Ju (陳宇茹) was flawless in the second round of the Hitachi Ladies Classic with six birdies, no blemish, and stole the lead by two shots, enhancing her bid for becoming the first winner in the 2019 golf world.

15-year-old amateur Wu Chia-Yen (吳佳晏) fired a 67, joining the Thai group in equal second including Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul, Chonlada Chayanun, Parinda Phokan, and four-time champion in this event, Pornanong Phatlum.

Dianne Luke from Malaysia, Hsieh Yu-Ling (謝瑀玲), Babe Liu (劉嬿), and Huang Ching (黃靖) were another shot adrift at 5-under 139.

Overnight leaders, Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan, who shot a 73, and Thai Nanthikarn Raksachat, who carded 76, dropped out of the top 10 on the leaderboard.

LPGA major champion Yani Tseng (曾雅妮) hand in an even-par 72, falling to equal 21st place at 141. 2018 winner Supamas Sangchan’s hope of defending her title gets slimmer and slimmer after a 1-over 73 on Saturday, trailing nine shots to the lead.

Aided by a clicking iron-and-putter combination, Chen will return to the final group in the final round of the Hitachi Ladies Classic after 2017 where she ended up in solo fifth. “I was reading the grass and the slopes on the green so well,” said Chen, who needed just 26 putts. The longest successful putt was from 23 feet away, but Chen was able to rest the ball less than ten feet to the cup on most occasions. She made fourteen greens in regulation.

“I put a lot of effort in my putting in the off-season training in Thailand,” added Chen, who said her experience in the past year playing in Korea also helped her to polish her skill set.

“Of course, I want to finish better than my past records here, but I have bigger vision than that. To me, it’s a great test to myself in front of all these strong players who have had experience on the LPGA Tour or the Japan LPGA Tour. It would be a great sense of recognition and fulfillment to myself if I can play well and even win it under this kind of intensity and competition, and this is what I hope to do on Sunday,” Chen said. She finished in a tie for 21st last year.

With perfect scoring conditions at the Orient Golf and Country Club, of the 108 players in the field, 35 were under par following the second round. “I’ve never seen so many players still with winnable scores with just one last round to go,” said four-time Hitachi Ladies Classic champion Phatlum. “It would be very competitive. I can only do my part and take it one shot at a time, and hopefully I can withstand the pressure of some close battle.”

Phatlum made three birdies and one bogey in her round of 70. “There is no wind. But I didn’t quite take the chance. My putter was a bit off,” said Phatlum, who took 32 putts on Saturday. “I’m going to take a close review on what I did wrong today and avoid the same mistake tomorrow. It’s really important no matter how high you are on the leaderboard, you’ll need to treat it as a normal round, learn to relax, and learn to reset yourself quickly after any mistakes. I might have a bit of advantage, experience wise, and I hope it will help me to be in a competitive position tomorrow.”

Wu Chia-Yen snatched four birdies on the front-nine, and continued her steady performance on the back-nine, carding two more birdies and just one blemish. She missed only one fairway and one green, showing superb control over the woods and irons. “I’m feeling great. For an amateur player like me, there is no difference if I drop in the ranking, so I’m going to take the attacking style tomorrow and see if I can knock in a few more birdies and win,” said Wu. “That’s my only goal, to win.”

Crowd favorite Yani Tseng’s putter became a liability again in the second round. On the par-5 10th, Tseng flew her second shot onto the green to create an eagle chance, but wasted it as she needed four putts to leave the hole and ended up having a bogey – the first bogey of four today. She was rather consistent on the front nine, making three birdies; however, all earnings were spent away on the inward nine as Tseng wound up registering a 72.

“I’m going to give my best tomorrow. There are five shots of difference to the leader, I’ll have to bring out something special,” Tseng said. “And thanks to the fans for being there for me and cheering for me. It means a lot and I hope I won’t let you down.”

A cut was made following the round to the low 60 scores, with 68 players advancing with scores of 148 or better.

Chen, Wu and Muangkhumsakul will be in the last flight to go in the final round at 10:50, Sunday morning.

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 on Sunday 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.

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