Round one of the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA draws a total of 6,428 fans. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
(October 31, 2019；New Taipei City) With the help of an eagle 2, defending Champion Nelly Korda shot a 6-under 66 to tie for the lead with Mi Jung Hur of South Korea in the opening round of the US$2.2 million Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA.
Minjee Lee of Australia made six birdies against one bogey to card a 5-under 67 to sit alone at third. Four international players including Su Oh of Australia shared a four-way tie for fourth at 68. Jessica Korda, Nelly Korda's older sister, fired a 69 to tie for eighth with five players including Japan's rising star "Smiling Cinderella" Hinako Shibuno.
Hinako Shibuno of Japan closes her opening round with a 69 to tie for 8th. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
Nelly Korda, who broke through with her maiden LPGA win at this tournament last year, had only 131 yards to the 15th green after hitting a beautiful tee shot. Her second shot with an 8-iron sent the ball flying straight at the flagstick. The ball landed just short of the flagstick, took a hop, and then spun back into the hole for an eagle 2. "I've been so close this year, and it's lipped-out a couple of times. Finally when it went in, it felt really good," said 21-year-old Korda.
Korda said it was quite windy out there and the condition was tough today, so she was happy to open with a 66. Korda, who triumphed at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open earlier this season, revealed that many local fans recognized her after her win at the 2018 Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship. "I'm recognized by so many people now and everyone is really rooting for me. They are like, "Again! Again!" said Korda.
Defending Champion Nelly Korda starts her title defense with a solid 6-underd 66. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
Meanwhile, four-time LPGA winner Mi Jung Hur got right back into business today, shooting three birdies on both her front nine and back nine, including a chip-in birdie at 14 for a bogey-free 66 and a share of the lead. Hur said strong winds made it difficult to gauge the distance and choose the right clubs. Faced with 170 yards to the hole for her second shot at the 5th hole, she was tentative with club selection, going back and forth between a five-iron and a 4-hybrid. "The shot came up just short of the green because the wind suddenly kicked up," lamented Hur.
Mi Jung Hur of Korea shoots a bogey-free 66 to tie for the lead. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
On the other hand, University of Arizona sophomore Yu-Sang Hou showed her composure in the face of the world's elite professional golfers today, as she shot an impressive 2-under 70 to tie for 14th as well as the best performance among 17 Taiwanese players in the field. Teresa Lu of Chinese Taipei, a regular on the Japanese LPGA tour, is tied for 29th with several players including 15-year-old local amateur Ho Yu An.
Yu-Sang Hou shoots the best score among all 17 Taiwanese players in the field today. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
Fans held their breath as Teresa Lu of Taiwan fires her tee shot at the fourth tee. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
Buoyed by her win at a professional TLPGA tournament in mid-August, Hou was still 3-under par for the day after 16 holes. However, she misjudged green speed on the final two holes and three-putted for bogey at 17. Hou said she has been quite confident with her game after recording two top-10 finishes at NCAA tournaments in the U.S. recently.
Local favorite Wei-Ling Hsu was a bit nervous during the first five holes playing alongside Nelly Korda and Rolex Rankings No. 1 player Jin Young Ko of Korea. Hsu held her own quite well until she ran into trouble at the par-4 15, where her tee shot veered into the rough right of the fairway. Distracted by a fan, she hit her second shot fat and the ball found water. After taking a one-shot penalty, she reached the green with her fourth shot and two-putted for a discouraging double-bogey.
Wei-Ling Hsu of Taiwan takes a double-bogey at 15 under the interference of a fan. (Photo Credit: Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA)
However, Hsu was committed to finishing her round on a positive note. At the par-5 18, she reached the green in three and set herself up with a nice 15-foot birdie putt. Hsu carefully studied the grain and slope of the green, before rolling the ball into the hole to close with a 1-over 73 and T37.
Second round of the 2019 Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA is set to start tomorrow at the Miramar Golf Country Club. Nelly Korda, Mi Jung Hur and Minjee Lee will tee off from the 1st hole at 10:35. Yu-Sang Hou is set to start at 9:51 from the 1st hole with Shibuno and American veteran Morgan Pressel. Teresa Lu, Ho Yu An and Wei-Ling Hsu will tee off at 8:34 from the 1st hole and 10th hole, respectively.
In order to encourage more fans to come to the golf course this week, organizers have painstakingly planned an assortment of interactive events, including Nearest Pin Challenge, fun putting games on the practice green, as well as a lucky draw on Sunday featuring prizes ranging from Gogoro electric scooters to iPhone 11 Pro.
Tickets for the 2019 Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA can be purchased via ibon or at http://www.sslpgataiwan.com/pages/tickets Admission tickets for each of the first two rounds start from NT$300, and NT$500 for each of the final two rounds. Four-day tournament passes are available at only NT$1,350. Formosa TV will provide live coverage tomorrow from noon till 4 pm. For more information, please visit: http://www.sslpgataiwan.com/