News and Media

Date: 06/06/2015

Tight at the Top

Vivian Lee

Twelve players lie within five strokes of the lead heading into the final round of the Hong Kong Ladies Open after a day that saw all six local amateurs make the cut.

The stage is set for a thrilling conclusion to the inaugural Hong Kong Ladies Open after a day of fluctuating fortunes at Fanling. 

At the head of affairs, Korea's Lee Jeong-hwa and Chen Yu-ju of Chinese Taipei will go into Sunday's final round tied for the lead on two-under after firing respective rounds of 72 and 71 on another sweltering day at The Hong Kong Golf Club. But with the top 12 players separated by only five strokes, the outcome of the US$120,000 tournament is far from certain. 

Lee, a former winner of the Philippines Ladies Open, managed four birdies and a brilliant eagle at the par-5 17th hole in her topsy-turvy level-par effort, while Chen's birdie-birdie finish put the gloss on a round characterised by accomplished ball striking.

Chinese Taipei's Yeh Hsin-ning, who held a share of the first-round lead, could only muster a 74 to lie in a share of third spot on one-under, the same score as her compatriot Chen Chih-min, the highly rated amateur who came in with a 73.

Swirling winds and soaring temperatures made really low scoring on the Old Course hard to come by, although for much of her round, Hong Kong's Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching looked to making healthy progress up the leader board. Chan, the 21-year-old amateur who has enjoyed a stellar last 18 months on the United States college circuit, opened up with a 75 on day one, but two front-nine birdies had her just three shots off the lead heading into the closing stretch of holes. Unfortunately for Chan, a double bogey at the par-5 14th after a poor drive took the wind from her sails, and at five-over for the tournament, her hopes would seem to be over.

"The 14th is a hole where I was looking for a birdie, so to drop two shots there was obviously a bad mistake," said Chan, the reigning World University champion. "I felt like I played better than the first day and tomorrow I'll take it one shot at a time and try and climb up as many places as possible."

On a solid day for Hong Kong players – all six national amateur representatives made the cut, which fell at 15-over-par – it was Vivian Lee Kai-wing who emerged as the strongest local performer. The 16-year-old tacked on a 73 to her opening 74 to lie at three-over, just five shots off the lead in a share of ninth.

"This is only the third time I've competed in a professional tournament so I'm very happy with how I played today – it's one of my best rounds," said Lee, who finished runner-up at the Hong Kong Ladies Amateur Close earlier this year. "I'm not feeling too nervous – I'm really just excited to be in this tournament and playing as well as I can."

Pre-event favourites Cheng Ssu-chia of Chinese Taipei, who held a share of the overnight lead, and South Africa's Connie Chen both had days they'll want to forget. The pair, who were in the same group, were each penalised a stroke for breaching the pace of play guidelines en route to rounds of 79 and 77.