Chinese teen duo shares early lead in Zhuhai
China's top young golf talents rose to the fore during first-round play of the Golf Liquor Guangdong Women's Open on Wednesday as Zeng Liqi and amateur Wang Zixuan each carded a 2-under-par 70 to share a one-shot lead.
Thailand's Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong, the China LPGA Tour Order of Merit leader, was one stroke back with compatriot Kusuma Meechai, tied for equal third with China's Zhang Jingwen and amateur Zhang Yahui.
Fellow Chinese amateurs Lin Xinen and Wu Tianqi were two shots off the pace with compatriot Fan Xinyuan and Thai veteran Wannasiri Sirisampant after posting rounds of even-par 72 over the Zhuhai Lakewood Golf Club composite course in Zhuhai, southern Guangdong Province.
Wang, the top junior player in the China Golf Association ranking, demonstrated why she is a player to watch as the 15-year-old put together a round featuring four birdies and two bogeys. The Beijing native, a winner of three junior events this year, surprised herself with her play as she was coming off a cold where she had a high fever last week.
"Now I am just recovering and not feeling 100 percent. I didn't expect to be leading or be around the lead at the end of the day. I was unsteady from tee to green today. I could have had a better score if I was alright," said the teenager, who turns 16 next month. "I have worked out in the gym more often recently. My coach told me to try to test my game after a workout. The first round seemed good."
Zeng, winner of last month's Beijing Women's Challenge, expressed frustration with her round that saw the 17-year-old card five birdies but also three bogeys, each with a three-putt.
"The greens were slow and I didn't feel very comfortable. I also missed some six-to-10 footers during the middle of the round. This golf course is not my type of course, even though I had a couple of good finishes here for the past two years. You can have a good score on any golf course if you are in good form," said the Nanchang teenager, currently second on the CLPGA Tour Order of Merit.
"I have won three times while I was behind the leader going into the final round. I want to triumph wire-to-wire, which would be a new experience for me. Previously if I was in the lead after the first round, I collapsed in the second or third round."
Sherman, winner of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Championship earlier this month, finished strongly with four birdies over the Lakewood back nine in a round that came with three bogeys, including one at the last.
"I should be better than this. I thought I could have made more birdies. On the front nine I didn't really hit it good, my approach shots are not really good, but the back nine was better. On the (148-yard) 11th hole I put my ball two feet short of the pin. If it had rolled I think if it might have been a hole-in-one," said the 26-year-old Bueng Kan native.
"This is a tough course, it's narrow but not long. For me, I don't really need my driver. My tee shots were pretty good today, but my approach shots need to be better."