World number one Yani Tseng put herself in contention for her 11th title of the season as she took a share of the early lead during the first round of the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open on Friday.
The 22-year-old from Chinese Taipei played with the 2010 event champion Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa and both players took advantage of the relatively still and mild conditions to fire rounds of four under par 68 at Suzhou Taihu International Golf Club, an hour from Shanghai.
They were joined by Denmark’s Lisa Holm Sorensen and Scotland’s Kylie Walker after the morning session.
Tseng and Walker played flawless golf, with four birdies each, while Sorensen and Pace had five birdies each and one dropped shot.
Tseng said: “I played pretty consistently today. It’s always good to be bogey-free, but I missed two four-footer putts otherwise it could be better, but it’s the first day of the tournament: I still have two days to go and I’m very happy with what I finished today, with a birdie on the last hole and I’m in a good position now.
“Today I didn’t hit it too good, it’s okay. I would say maybe, 70 per cent of it was pretty good, because I hit the shots straight and I drove the ball pretty good. I think I make lot of good strokes but the ball just didn’t go in. I tried my best every shot and tried to focus on every shot.
“The course is not very narrow and I mean some of its long. A couple of par fives I could reach. A couple of long holes out there, you can be aggressive, a couple of short holes you can be aggressive too.”
Pace, who won her fifth LET title in a four-way play-off at the venue 12 months ago, was satisfied with five birdies after dropping a shot at her first hole, the tenth.
Pace said: “I could have made more birdies, more putts. I hit it pretty close on the last three holes of the back nine but didn’t make the putts. I hit it to two metres on 15 and didn’t make that one.
The 2010 European Henderson Money List winner enjoyed playing with Tseng. “If you look at her hitting balls: she strikes it so pure and straight down the fairway every time. It definitely lifted my game today and I think I played better, which is good,” she said.
Sorensen, playing to secure her Tour card after an indifferent season, was delighted with her golf.
The 28-year-old from Helsingor said: “My game has been quite good today. I played pretty much flawless: hit many greens and gave myself a lot of opportunities out there and took the good ones, so all in all, I’m very happy with my game.
“I was quite surprised by the pin positions: they were quite hard today: not normal for the first day pin positions, but I liked that a lot. They were different; they were difficult and they were not easy to get to, so I think it was very good.”
Walker, a second year professional on the LET, carded three birdies in a row from the fourth hole and grabbed another on the par-five 18th, after reaching the green in two shots.
“I’m happy with four under. It was all really quite steady. I only missed two greens, gave myself a lot of chances and made a few of them. It was really nice, stress free. I was never in trouble,” Walker said.
“On the front nine I hit it in close on the fourth to 10 feet and holed that one. On the par-five fifth I hit it through the back of the green into the bunker and got up and down. It was a really good bunker shot and left just a tap-in. On six I hit it in close to three feet. I two-putt birdied the last after hitting the green in two.
“I’m driving it nicely, which is an advantage around here if you can be in the right positions, it sets you up for a good shot into the green.
“I was hitting nice iron shots in so I was never far away. The greens are quite big and there are slopes so I was never presented with big long sloping putts or anything: it was all relatively straightforward.”
However, there were several other names on the leader board by early afternoon.