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2020 Taiwan LPGA Tour | Hitachi Ladies Classic 17– 19 Jan Third-Round Recap
Date:2020-01-19

Chen Yu-Ju (陳宇茹), the 2018 TLPGA Tour money winner, opened her 2020 season with a victory at the 12th edition of the Hitachi Ladies Classic.

Despite a bogey on the final hole, Chen’s final total of 10-under 206 was enough to beat the field. The Taiwanese pocketed $2.5 million for the win.

Amateur Hou Yu-Chiang (侯羽薔) finished in solo second, missing a crucial birdie putt on the 18th which could have forced a play-off. Babe Liu (劉嬿) and Japanese Haruka Amamoto finished in a tie for third.

Mamiko Higa, 36-hole co-leader with Chen, found herself two shots behind right away after bogeying the first hole while Chen scored a birdie, and seemed to never quite picked up her intensity. She wrapped up the week in a tie for fifth at 7-under.

Chen, who has been finding her feet on the Korea LPGA Tour and it’s second-tier Dream Tour circuit, maintained a comfortable three-shot lead through 10 holes, although five players were lurking to take advantage of Chen’s slip-up. Chen leaked her first important error on the 14th hole, but she made up for it immediately with a birdie on the following hole to keep the margin.

At 11-under and with two shots clear of Hou on the par-5 18th, Chen failed her birdie attempt on the green from a farther position, and surprisingly needed two more shots to close. Hou, who had a shorter putt for birdie, also couldn’t convert her opportunity. And that proved to be the deciding shot. Having played also in the leading group on the final day in the 2017 and 2019 events, Chen finally got the last laugh.

“I was trying to stay relaxed and positive but not overly confident. An out-of-bound could change the momentum and even the outcome in a blink,” Chen said. “But I was definitely feeling more confident after the birdie on the 9th. I put myself in an unnecessary difficult situation on that 18th green. Fortunately, I still was able to lift the trophy—I had been picturing myself on the commercial banners as the winner!”

The younger of the Hou sisters from Taiwan, Yu-Chiang was looking to take her fourth victory on the pro tour, but fell just short. “I thought I was three behind (Chen) Yu-Ju on the 18th. I didn’t realize one birdie could have given me a play-off chance,” said Hou. The freshman at the University of Arizona requested for a leave to compete in this week at the Hitachi Ladies Classic.

The second-best amateur in the final round was Huang Yu-Ping (黃郁評), who rose from 3-over to 2-under thanks to a bogey-free 5-under 67 on Sunday, which put her in solo 14th. “I was a little tight in the first couple of rounds but I was feeling a lot better and free today. My putter was pretty good,” Huang said, who aims to crack into the JLPGA Tour field someday in the near future.

The low-round of the day was posted by Chang Hsuan-Ping (張瑄屏), who carded also her best career round with a 66, jumping nine places from T14 to equal 5th. “My team has been telling me to play more aggressively, and I think I did just that today while controlling the mistakes. I added some new clubs into my bag before this week which seemed to be pretty helpful as well”

The Hitachi Ladies Classic, the season-opening event of the 2020 TLPGA Tour, offers a total purse of NT$10 million, which saw a huge increase from the NT$4.1 million when the tournament was first held in 2009.

This tournament is presented by Hitachi Ltd. and Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning Taiwan Co., Ltd.. Annual proceeds from the 2020 Hitachi Ladies Classic as well as an equal bonus from the title sponsor, will be used to endow 10 local charities. Over the last eleven years, the donation amount has exceeded NT$60 million.

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