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2021 Taiwan LPGA Tour | Hitachi Ladies Classic 8– 10 Jan First-Round Recap

Chien Pei-Yun (錢珮芸) extended her winning form in the 2020 season-ending Taiwan Mobile Ladies Open to set the early pace at the Hitachi Ladies Classic on Friday.

Chien recorded a 4-under 68 in 5-degree Celsius coldness to lead by two shots. Hsu Wei-Ling (徐薇凌), runner-up in the previous leg, again kept it close with Chien, sitting in solo second with a first-round 70.

Cold wave swept across the island late on Thursday as players went out in brutal environment on Friday morning—there was even rains early on which made it even more chilly, or “numbing” as they said it when returning to the clubhouse.

“It was definitely not an ideal playing condition, so I was very careful to every shot I hit. Especially on the Orient course, you can drop shots very easily,” said Chien. “I think I was really focused, a little stressed, but in a good way. There was one bad mistake was on the 11th where I mis-read the pin position and thought I was closer to the hole. It was too short in the end and I left with my only bogey today.” Chien scored five birdies to well make up for the loss, though.

“I was hitting well from the tees, and the short game remained pretty solid. The par-5 first and tenth were must-take for birdies, and I did it. It was a very good day overall. But I know there are a lot of great players, with amazing birdie skills, just two or three shots off. I’ll need to be playing as clean as today.

Eight players sit in a tie for third at 71. Chen Cih-Hui (陳慈惠) was one of them.

“I felt I was playing more relaxed. I think it might have to do with the fact that I got a part-time coaching job in a club during the lockdown, and that financially, helped me to feel more secure, so I’m less nervous and worried coming into these tournaments,” Chen said. “I was hitting the ball pretty straight, even though I kind of hurt my neck and I was a little worried it would affect today, so I went for a nice massage yesterday and it turned out okay.”

Chen Chih-Min (陳之敏), holding one TLPGA Tour victory at the BNP PARIBAS & TLPGA Heritage Tour, made three birdies and two three-putt bogeys. “2020 was a good year for me. One victory. Which made me feel that I would have to have a better 2021. The idea is exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time,” Chen Chih-Min reflected on her break-through season.

For Hou Yu-Sang (侯羽桑), the key to stay in the competition was patience in cold conditions like these. “You feel tighter. The ball flies shorter. So you wait for the opportunities,” said Hou, who also made two three-putts, and as a consequence two bogeys, but picked up three birdies to finish day one in red numbers. Lin Tzu-Chi (林子麒) scored two birdies to go 2-under through 16 but dropped a shot on the 17th to fall in the crowded tie.

“It was freezing. I haven’t been playing in such coldness for a while,” Hsu Wei-Ling said. Still, the LPGA Tour member put up a decent performance with four birdies. “I tried to send the ball safely on the greens. But some of them came really far from the pin, so I needed a bit more putts than usual. The length I went through on the greens today was probably combined long enough to create a par-3 hole!”

LPGA major champion Yani Tseng’s (曾雅妮) struggle might have come and go. She posted one of the best opening rounds in quite some time with a 73 at the Hitachi Ladies Classic. “Still, on the top of my mind is to try to find back that instinct. To do that I’ll need to throw all the pressure and expectations away and just let my game come naturally.”

For the 13th year in a row, the Hitachi Ladies Classic remains one of the highest paying TLPGA Tour event. The winner to be emerged from 96 local elites on Sunday will be rewarded a NT$2.5 million prize check and bonus world ranking points.

Annual proceeds from the tournament and an equal bonus from Hitachi will be used to endow 10 local charities. Estimated donation with all 13 events combined is going to reach NT$70 million.


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