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2019 Taiwan LPGA Tour | CTBC Ladies Classic First-Round Recap

Chen Yu-Ju (陳宇茹) relived some of her best moments at Dragon Lake today, as the defending champion of the CTBC Ladies Classic captured nine birdies en route to a first-round 7-under 65, leading by three strokes.

The Taiwan LPGA and China LPGA co-sanctioned professional event attracted 132 golfers from 11 countries, who will be competing through 54 holes for the RMB120,000 top prize, part of a RMB800,000 purse.

Connie Chen of South Africa, China’s Zhang Jienalin (張婕娜琳), and Thailand’s Trichat Cheenglab carded matching 68s to sit in equal second.

Peng Chieh (彭婕), with her opening-round 69, joined six other players in a crowded fifth place that accommodates Korean Hwang Ye-Nah, Na Hee Won, Chinese Du Mohan (杜墨含), Liu Yiyi (刘依一), Japanese Mina Nakayama, and Thai player Dolnap Phudthipinij.

Teen sensations Wu Chia-Yen (吳佳晏) and Chang Tzu-Yi (張子怡) closely followed with one shot adrift in a tie for 12th. CTBC Bank ambassador Shi Yuting (石昱婷) had a 1-over 73 to start her campaign.

Last week’s Hengqin Phoenix Tree Building Orient Golf Challenge winner, Renuka Suksukont failed to impress as she switched onto the Dragon Lake course. Her Thursday 75 hit her hard down into a tie for 67th.

Chen Yu-Ju goes into this week as the defending champion, with the confidence to have finished top-4 in the season-opening Hitachi Ladies Classic and Taiwan Women’s Golf Open in January.

She found herself high up on the leaderboard quickly again.

Today saw the 21-year-old Taiwanese racked up five birdies in the first seven holes, from especially tough lengths on the 5th and 6th greens. She made 14 greens, converting nine birdie chances; she needed just 24 putts.

A wild approach from 30 yards on the par-5 14th got her into an awkward situation for the first time on the day, leaving her a difficult downward putt for par. Chen finally left the green after three attempts, which resulted in a double-bogey. Displaying a champion mentality, she made up for the loss by notching a pair of birdies from just four remaining holes, including an easy tap-in birdie to close the round set up by a penetrating chipping from 90 yards away.

During the off-season, Chen has done a lot of changing in the deeper aspects of the game which are not about techniques, such as warm-up routines, living style, and fitness training in hopes for even more breakthrough moments in the new year.

“The green speed here at the Dragon Lake is suited well to my game,” said Chen, who described that her stretch of four consecutive birdies on the front nine felt almost “natural”. “I didn’t even notice they were that good. I thought it was how it should be,” said Chen.

Chen opened her title count this time last year as she set an unofficial TLPGA Tour record (played with “preferred lies”) with as many as seven birdies earned on the back nine during second-round play on her way to her first career victory. Chen ended the 2018 season with another win at the TLPGA & Royal Open, and another four top-10 finishes, which helped her to take the TLPGA Tour year-end no.1 honor.

“I’m feeling well. But I don’t want to think about defending the championship. I don’t want to put that unnecessary pressure onto my shoulder. I’ll just try to enjoy a great course that’s perfect for my game and do well on each shot.”

Peng Chieh of Taiwan also capitalized on a warm, peaceful day in Guangzhou to turn in a bogey-free scorecard, sitting in striking distance with just four shots off the lead.

This week’s backdrop, a 27-hole, Dick Davidson-designed, lakeside course, adapts well to the natural landform, with the landscape of “one half lake and the other half hills”. The 8th, 16th, and 18th hole of the club have received honor to be included as three of “China’s 18 Signature Holes”. The competition layout for the 2019 CTBC Ladies Classic is set at 6,533 yards long.

This week’s field features 45 of TLPGA Tour’s best, 74 local campaigners from the CLPGA Tour, and 13 special invites, representing Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, and Taiwan. This is the third edition of the CTBC Ladies Classic, which was first held in 2015 and title-sponsor by the Taiwan-based CTBC Bank.

Second-round play starts at 7:15 on Friday morning from the first and tenth tees. A cut will be made to the top 60 and ties for Saturday’s final-round.


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