South Korean Ji Han Sol edged one stroke clear of a crowded leader board as play was suspended due to darkness for a second day at the World Ladies Championship in China.
After Thursday’s play was interrupted due to heavy rain and storms, half the field was forced to return to complete their first round on the Olazabal Course at Mission Hills Resort Dongguan on Friday morning, meaning a long day in testing conditions for many competitors. Ji, however, finished her opening round of 68 early on Thursday, meaning she could enjoy a sleep-in before starting her second round at 17:20.
Well rested, she came firing out of the blocks with two birdies in three holes, picking up a shot on the par-four second before holing a wedge shot at the third to hit six-under before play was suspended. The 19-year-old Korean LPGA Tour player, who is yet to win a professional tournament, sits one clear of compatriot Kim Bo-Kyung, who had a flawless 66, with the 2015 Ricoh Women’s British Open runner-up Ko Jin Young a stroke further back in third.
Kim, whose tournament low round included six birdies, said: “My long putting was good and saved my round. I’m so lucky that I made birdies on the par fives. This course is difficult and making long putts from seven to 10 metres always helps. My short putting was not as good and I missed several birdie chances. My wedge play helped a lot today and I made some good sand saves because the lies in the bunkers weren’t too bad.”
In fourth place on three-under-par, Lin Tzu-Chi of Chinese Taipei is one of only two non-Korean players in the top 10, along with Celine Herbin of France in a share of seventh place after as many holes completed in her second round. Lin was up at 5am to complete her first round and ended her second 12 hours later. She said: “I feel very tired right now. I played 25 holes today. I think mental and physical fitness are tied together but sometimes if your mentality is strong you can keep going.”
It was a similar story for Valentine Derrey of France, who played 27 holes and shares 12th place on level par after a second round 74. She said: “It was a long day and felt tough, because I was up early, at 5am. At one point it got very cold but I kept fighting.” Klara Spilkova of the Czech Republic was also on level par after seven holes in her second round, while the 2015 Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark is the next best placed European in a share of 24th place on two-over-par.
Pedersen’s sparkling second round 68 included an eagle three on the signature 15th hole, turning strongly right to left around an enormous reservoir lined with 20 bunkers stretching all the way to the green. After hitting her 3-wood into the fairway, she lay up with a 4-iron, before holing out with her third shot from 108 metres using a 46 degree wedge.
In the team competition for pairs running concurrently, South Korea holds a seven stroke lead over France, with Herbin yet to finish her second round and Chinese Taipei is currently third.
Round two will resume at 7.30am on Saturday morning.