Amateur Hou, Tsai share early lead at CTBC

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Li Jiayun was the top Chinese mainland player at the CTBC Ladies Open. The Guangdong native was alone in third after a 1-under 71, two shots behind Hou Yu-sang and Tsai Pei-ying
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Amateur Hou, Tsai share early lead at CTBC
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China's Li Jiayun hits a tee shot during the first round of the the CTBC Ladies Open in New Taipei City on Thursday. She fired a 1-under-par 71 to sit two shots behind the leaders.

Chinese Taipei amateur Hou Yu-sang and fellow islander Tsai Pei-ying set the early pace at the CTBC Ladies Open on Thursday as each opened with a 3-under-par 69 to share a two-shot lead at Linkou International Golf & Country Club in New Taipei City.

Li Jiayun was the top Chinese mainland player at the 1.12-million yuan (US$159,000) tournament. The Guangdong Province native was alone in third after carding a 1-under 71 over the lengthy 6,736-yard layout.

Hebei Province native Pan Yanhong was equal fourth at even-par 72 in a group that included Thais Titiya Plucksataporn, Supamas Sangchan and Chatprapa Siriprakob and Chinese Taipei’s Chang Ching-ling.

Hou Yu-sang, currently 39th in the World Golf Amateur Ranking, upstaged her much-celebrated younger sister Hou Yu-chiang (73), a three-time winner against pro fields, in the opening round.

The University of Arizona junior opened with a birdie four at the 515-yard first, one of four she would card on the day. Her only dropped shot came at the 520-yard fourth hole where she made a bogey six.

“I really love CTBC events. Two years ago and three years ago, I had a couple of high finishes. You know we love Orient Taipei. This year it’s a new venue, but I also had a good start,” said the 19-year-old Hou who had a chip-in birdie on the 13th hole from 18 yards out.

“I haven’t played so well both in Philippines and Kaohsiung (in her last two starts). The key problem was approach shots. I missed a lot of greens in regulation. This week, this part improved. I hit 14 greens. I felt good about this opening round.”

Tsai rebounded from an early bogey five at the 400-yard second hole. She then held steady to post four birdies to grab a share of the lead. Since 2011, the veteran has played mainly in Japan. Last month, she won her first title there when she captured the ECC Ladies Golf Tournament on the JLPGA development tour.

“The good form is translating into this week. My tee shots were really steady. I also hit decent iron shots,” said Tsai who hit 14 fairways today. “I am playing with (Hou) Yu-sang in the final group the next round. I am a more seasoned pro and will put pressure on her.”

Li, who is in the hunt for her first pro title since 2016 when she won the Le Coq Sportif Beijing Ladies Classic, struggled late on the Linkou layout in an erratic round that included five birdies and four bogeys after starting the day from the 10th hole.

The 30-year-old veteran, who was recently working with the China national team in Nanshan in a teaching capacity, said she was surprised by her good score.

“The front nine (the back nine) was smoother. I had a good rhythm, not slow, not rushed. But after the turn, we spent much more time at each hole and it was more up-and-down in the terms of scores over there. I had two bogeys over the final three holes, which was a little bit disappointing.”

Defending champion Chonlada Chayanun of Thailand struggled to a 79 in a round that included seven bogeys.

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