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2019 Taiwan LPGA Tour | SAMPO Ladies Open First-Round Recap
Date:2019-04-17

Parinda Phokan of Thailand registered a 2-under 70 on Wednesday to open her campaign for a second TLPGA Tour title this year. She was two shots clear of compatriot Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul and Taiwanese Babe Liu (劉嬿) and Chen Hsuan (陳萱).

A three-way tie for fifth include Thai players Narisara Kerdrit, Thanutra Boonraksasat, Arpichaya Yubol, who carded matching 1-over 73s.

15-year-old teen sensation Wu Chia-Yen (吳佳晏) sit another shot back in a tie with Lee Hsin (李欣), Lai Yi-Ting (賴怡廷), Chen Szu-Han (陳思涵), Chang Hsuan-Ping (張瑄屏), Pimpadsorn Sangkagaro, and Nattagate Nimitpongkul.

Phokan’s run against strong wind at the Taipei Golf Club today saw her wrap up with four birdies, offset by two bogeys due to missed greens. The Hitachi Ladies Classic champion needed 30 putts. Her birdies were gained from around 10-foot range; there was a great save from seven feet on the second hole which turned out to be an important booster for confidence.

“It was very windy. The rolling greens was also a big challenge,” said Phokan, who was the only player with red number. “It was really narrow especially on the front nine. Very hard to score on this course. I’m glad I made good use of the few opportunities I gave myself.”

The 23-year-old Khon Kaen native boasts multiple victories on the Thai Tour and the China LPGA Tour in 2018.

Last year’s top-amateur winner Chen Hsuan, now a pro, was coming off a third-place finish at the Manila Ladies Classic last week, her best career finish so far. Her round of 72 included a triple bogey on the par-4 3rd, where Chen lost her ball with the tee shot being dragged right. But she kept her cool to collect five birdies and climbed back up to even with a 37-35 72.

Chen hit 10 fairways and 12 greens. “I’m not really happy with my driver today, a lot of them flew right,” said Chen, who was pulled to the right rough soon again on the tenth where she left with a bogey. “Fortunately, I had pretty good short game, which kept my rhythm going.” She made only 28 attempts on the greens, picking up four birdies along the way, including a chip-in from 20 yards away on the 11th. Her longest successful putt was a 24-footer on the 13th.

“It’s a difficult course. I still remember I made three consecutive 72s here last year, which kept me as high as no.3 on the final scoreboard. So, I would say it was a nice start today with another 72. Hopefully I can make a few steps forward this time!” Chen said.

Babe Liu would have taken the sole leading position if not for the three bogeys coming on the last five holes which erased her effort of making three birdies on the 1st, thanks to a 14-foot birdie, as well as on the par-5 7th and 15th.

“It became a bit unpredictable with the wind picking up on the back nine. I made a few bad club choices and it wasn’t the most ideal ending. I was hoping I can break par in all three rounds,” said Liu, whose 2-iron let her down late into the day, resulting in bad approaches and dropped shots on no.17 and 18. “But I’m not too far off! I’m looking forward to Thursday and Friday.” Liu used 29 putts today.

Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul, 2019 Hitachi Ladies Classic runner-up, made it a little tougher for herself with only 50% success rate to make the greens in regulation. Still, she managed to pocket four birdies thanks to her precise wedges and putter. She’s now two back of lead after a 35-37, even-par 72.

SAMPO sponsored Chang Hsuan-Ping picked up an impressive five birdies but the aggressive play had her pay back with seven bogeys. She found herself in equal eighth place on the leaderboard at 2-over after the first-round. Tied for eighth with Chang saw the 2018 Party Golfer Ladies Open winner Wu Chia-Yen, who is the youngest player in the rope.

Second-round play is set to begin at 7:00 Thursday morning. The 54-hole tournament is held at the C and D course of the Taipei Golf Club; the competition layout is set at 6,217 yards long this year.

The 2019 SAMPO Ladies Open saw 106 golfers from six countries chasing for the NT$5 million purse, which shows a 25% increase from last year (NT$4 million). The top prize grew from NT$720,000 to $900,000.

SAMPO will offer hole-in-one prizes on 4th, 8th, 11th, and 18th for the first ace on each of the four holes. A special prize of a 3-piece SAMPO alliance set worth NT$70,000 will be given to the best-finishing Taiwanese player on Friday.

Fans can follow TLPGA’s official YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIC7m5twRd9PlWU5K-xl-ow?view_as=subscriber) where live streaming service will be featured for the late rounds on Apr. 18 and 19. SAMPO will also provide a lottery ticket for each TLPGA Facebook fan coming to the final round at the Taipei Golf Club on Friday, for a chance to take home a 55” SAMPO 4K Smart LED worth NT$23,900.

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