Defending champion Shanshan Feng shot a bogey-free second round of six under par 66 in cloudy conditions at Shanghai Qizhong Garden Golf Club on Friday to share the lead with South Korean Na Yeon Choi at the Buick Championship in China.
Feng took a no-nonsense approach on the greens which led to six birdies and a halfway total of seven-under-par. She said: “I played great today. The wind obviously was stronger and it was colder out there, so the conditions were tougher than yesterday. I made some nice putts which was different from yesterday. Yesterday, those grains distracted me. I believed that it would break to the right or left, but it didn’t. Today, I took the lesson and putted them straightforward. It worked and I had a great round.”
At this point last year, Feng was six strokes clear of the field but it’s a tighter race heading into this weekend. Choi, who had a second round of 68, said: “Overall my name is on the leader board so I’m pretty happy and proud of myself. I was patient out there as I didn’t have my A game, especially with my driver and irons, I missed a lot of shots. I was disappointed with myself but I tried to hang in and my caddie helped me a lot. The wind direction has been different every day so each hole it’s different, and it’s playing like a different course.”
China’s Xiyu Lin and Beth Allen of the USA, who were both winners on the Ladies European Tour in 2015, are a stroke behind the leaders on six under par. Allen held the outright lead at eight under until she hit her second shot heavy on the par-5 18th hole and it found the water, resulting in a bogey. She said afterwards: “I’ve been playing really well and the last is really frustrating but I have to get over it and keep making birdies so we’ll see what happens.
“I think I had 27 putts today and 28 or 29 yesterday. I hit lots of greens in general so if I’m holing putts I’m scoring pretty well. I love this golf course and played well here last year. I like the greens here and I see them. I feel really comfortable and my putting stroke is the same as Morocco.”
England’s Florentyna Parker, who finished second at last week’s Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco, is a stroke further back, sharing fifth place with Welshwoman Becky Morgan and 15-year-old amateur Yifan Ji.
Ji could become the second youngest winner on the Ladies European Tour as on Sunday she will be six days older than Lydia Ko was when she won the 2013 ISPS HANDA Women’s New Zealand Open, aged 15 years, nine months and 21 days. She could also become the first amateur to win on the LET since Cheng Ssu-Chia, who captured the 2014 Xiamen Open on her LET debut, aged 17.
“As I’m an amateur, I could have less pressure than the professionals and be more relaxed. I’m just here for experience,” said Ji. “Last year I was here but didn’t make the cut. This is a great improvement, my putting and skills have improved quite a bit. I have a more stable mind set to be able to cope with various situations.”
Other notable rounds included 66s by Klara Spilkova and Wei Wei Zhang, while Marta Sanz Barrio holed her second shot for eagle on the par-4 12th hole.