Zeng moves ahead on tight Zhuhai leaderboard

Zeng Liqi separates herself from the pack at the Golf Liquor Guangdong Open as the Nanchang teenager opens up a slim one-shot lead through two rounds of the China LPGA Tour event.

Zeng Liqi separated herself from the pack at the Golf Liquor Guangdong Open on Thursday as the Nanchang teenager opened up a slim one-stroke lead through two rounds of the China LPGA Tour event.

With the weather hot and sunny at Zhuhai Lakewood Golf Club, Zeng, the overnight co-leader, carded her second consecutive round of 2-under-par 70 for a 36-hole score of 4-under 140.

Thai veteran Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong battled through illness to shoot a 70 to sit one stroke off the pace with Chinese amateur Zhang Yahui (70). Fellow Thai Kusuma Meechai was two shots back after a 71.

Amateur Wang Zixuan, the other overnight co-leader, struggled to a 3-over 75 to fall five shots back.

Zeng, a three-time winner on the CLPGA Tour, started her day from the Lakewood back nine and took a while to get her round going. Her first birdie did not come until the 17th hole (her eighth) as she made the turn at even par. Her back nine (the front nine) proved much better as she carded four birdies and two bogeys, including one at her last hole (the ninth) where she chipped over the green.

"I felt good about my game although I missed some chances out there. A 70 isn't a great score, but it's good enough to put me into a good position to compete for the title. I need to play better around the greens. I felt that I rushed with some shots crudely," said Zeng, who continued to battle with a putter that saw her three-putt three times during the first round.

"It's a tough course. I had another two three-putts for bogeys today. The important thing is I completed my round without a big mistake or a double bogey."

Sherman, the CLPGA Tour Order of Merit leader, got hot late in her round playing in the same group as Zeng when she carded three consecutive birdies starting from the sixth hole (her 15th) to take the lead. However, disaster struck on her last hole (the ninth) when she closed with a double-bogey six.

Zeng moves ahead on tight Zhuhai leaderboard

Zeng Liqi in action during the second round of the Golf Liquor Guangdong Open at Zhuhai Lakewood Golf Club in Zhuhai, south China's Guangdong Province, on Thursday. The Chinese player carded a second consecutive round of 2-under-par 70 for a 36-hole score of 4-under 140 and a one-shot lead.

"My tee shot went right and I lost my ball. My second ball went into the bunker and then I two-putted," said Sherman, who considered withdrawing from the tournament after coming down with a severe case of diarrhea.

"I hope I'm feeling better tomorrow. I have some pills. I wasn't feeling well before I arrived here. It's not COVID-19. We'll see tomorrow."

Zhang, the Wuhan amateur, put herself in contention for her second CLPGA Tour win with a round that included three birdies and a lone bogey after starting from the back nine. Two years ago, the teenager won the CTBC Zhuhai Challenge at Lakewood in a playoff as a 15-year-old, becoming the youngest winner on Tour at the time.

"If only I was 3-under today it would have made me happier leaving this golf course. But I will take this score because you couldn't make more putts on those tricky greens. Some putting lines weren't readable," said Zhang, who last month competed in the prestigious Augusta National Women's Amateur in the United States.

"I am coming back to my old form slowly. I could hit some accurate shots more regularly. I am changing my swing under a new coach. I spent more time on the driving range and less time on the putting green, which led to my poor touch on the greens."

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