Australian Stacey Keating fired a course record nine under par 63 at Shanghai Qizhong Garden Golf Club on Thursday to take a two stroke lead over the world number five Shanshan Feng after the first round of the Buick Championship.
Keating had just 23 putts in her career low round, which featured 10 birdies, including seven in eight holes from the seventh. The only blemish on her card was a solitary bogey on the par-four 10th in the middle of her magic run.
“I hit the ball nicely from tee to green but I holed a lot of putts and got a bit lucky at times. When it’s your day, it’s your day I guess,” said the 28-year-old from Melbourne. “I had a bunker shot at the last and it hit the pin and finished right next to it whereas on any other day it probably would have run off the green.”
Keating’s previous low round on the Ladies European Tour was an eight under par 62 at Chantaco Golf Club which eventually led to her collecting her second title at the 2012 Lacoste Ladies’ Open de France.
She continued: “I love the course, it’s in great condition and it feels like nobody has played it. I like China and it’s very easy from Australia with not much time difference.”
Two strokes back on seven under par, China’s Feng made a great start when she made a 20 yard putt for eagle on the par-five 13th, playing as her fourth hole. She sealed her flawless round with five additional birdies on the 15th, 17th, 18th, fourth and sixth holes.
“I feel very lucky that they watered the greens last night because the greens were not as firm,” said the 2014 OMEGA Dubai Ladies Masters champion. “When we were playing in the Pro-Am and practice round, I could not stop the ball on the greens, even with my wedge. I think today it really helped and I had a lot of birdie chances so overall I did pretty well.”
China’s Xiyu Lin fired a six under par 66 to sit in third place. She held the early lead after eight birdies in 16 holes, but double bogeyed her last hole after hooking her tee shot into the river on the par-four ninth.
The recent Sanya Ladies Open champion said: “Today I didn’t really think I could have that many birdies: I was just trying to have a good strategy and trying to hit the ball to the widest place.”
There was huge excitement around the course when Victoria Lovelady from Brazil made a hole in one at the 16th, playing as her seventh hole. She used a hybrid 5 club to ace the hole from 187 yards, winning a Buick GL8 car.
This is the Ladies European Tour’s first visit to Shanghai, but many of the local players competed in the Buick Invitational last year, which was a China LPGA Tour event.
She added: “I feel extremely blessed to be playing this sport, to be part of the LET and to be able to come to China to play. Not many people have that chance. I want to thank the people who invited me here. Coming from Brazil, a country of 200 million where only 15,000 people play golf, I feel extremely blessed to be one of them and representing my country in this fantastic tournament in amazing conditions on this great course.”