|Shanshan Feng, 22, from Guangzhou|
Italian Diana Luna shares the lead with China’s Shanshan Feng after round one of the World Ladies Championship at Mission Hills Haikou in Southern China.
|Diana Luna celebrates her eagle on the par-four fifth hole with her husband, Fabio, who is acting as her caddie for the week|
Luna and Feng carded six under-par 66s on The Vintage Course on Friday to finish the day one shot clear of four other players: Frenchwoman Anne-Lise Caudal, Ireland’s Rebecca Codd, Beth Allen of the United States and Candie Kung from Chinese Taipei.
Luna dropped shots at the third and fourth holes but the turning point came when she holed her second shot from 165 metres for eagle at the fifth using a rescue club. She then picked up five birdies with a solitary bogey on the 14th hole.
“My start was very slow,” Luna said. “I had two bogeys in the first two par fives, which was a little disappointing of course, because I made six on a par five without any funny shots. A stupid six: I missed one very short putt on the first par five and then I made a very bad chip at the second so two very stupid bogeys, but then I holed a rescue the hole after, so that put me back in play.”
Luna revealed that she was playing aggressively and almost made hole in ones at the 10th and 13th holes. “You always go for it, of course. I was playing well in Australia a few weeks ago and I finished second so I had very good scores as well. I’m in a good moment. I think I’m playing solid golf and I’m looking to be high in the leader board,” said the 29-year-old from Rome.
China’s world number 12 Feng delighted the home crowd with seven birdies and just one dropped shot at the sixth in the co-sanctioned Ladies European Tour and China LPGA event.
The 22-year-old from the city of Guangzhou said: “The course condition is much better than in the practice round. Distance isn’t a problem. I used the short irons to the greens. For par 5s, I need two or three shots to make the green which gives me good birdie opportunities.”
The Championship, being played over 54 holes of stroke play from Friday March 2 to Sunday March 4, features a unique three-in-one format with players competing as individuals as well as in teams.
There are three categories – individual professionals, individual amateurs and professional teams.
Feng combined with Yiying Ye for a 10-under-par total to put China at the top of the team leader board, two strokes clear of the Chinese Taipei pair Candie Kung and Amy Hung.
Italian pair Luna and Giulia Sergas’ scores gave them an opening seven under par total for third position in the team event.
Thai duo Pornanong Phatlum and Nontaya Srisawang are one shot back on six under alongside Swedish pair Linda Wessberg and Pernilla Lindberg, with England’s Melissa Reid and Florentyna Parker in sixth place on five under par.
In the individual amateur race, featuring eight young players, China’s Yi Chen Liu, 19, is leading on two under par 70, one shot ahead of 14-year-old New Zealander Lydia Ko. Liu was one of the first players out of the blocks in the more humid morning conditions while Ko played in a breeze during the afternoon.