World No. 2 Suzann Pettersen extended her lead at the US$2 million Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship yesterday after figuring out unpredictable winds enough to shoot her second sub-70 round in a row, but for Taiwan’s Yani Tseng it was another punishing day that sent her plunging down the leaderboard.
Starting the day with a three-shot lead after a four-under 68 in the first round on Thursday, Pettersen remained steady yesterday, scoring a hole-in-one, two birdies and one bogey to finish with a round of 69 and a two-day total of seven-under 137.
The Norwegian won a bonus of US$10,000 for her hole-in-one on the par-three second, whe she hit her tee shot very close to the hole before it trickled in, drawing a huge roar from the crowd.
“It was a very, very good shot,” Pettersen said, adding that she had a good start, despite a challenging day with winds getting stronger and stronger.
“Today was a really tough day,” she said.
Pettersen has won three out of the 20 LPGA tournaments she has played so far this year and if she can win in Taiwan it would narrow the gap between her and world No. 1 Inbee Park of South Korea.
The Norwegian has been so dominant on the first two days that she is only one of five players to be under-par after the first two rounds and she has a five-shot lead over her nearest pursuers, Carlota Ciganda of Spain and Yoo Sun-young of South Korea.
The shifting winds gave all the players a hard time, including former world No. 1 Tseng, who could not figure out what exactly had gone wrong after carding a six-over 78.
The 24-year-old had six bogeys and no birdies on a course she has dominated in the past to finish the day 10-over for the tournament, leaving her tied for 62nd place.
It continued a nightmarish run in front of her adoring fans that began a day earlier with a first-round four-over 76.
“I felt good and hit a lot of really beautiful shots, but the results just weren’t there,” Tseng said.
“I checked with my caddie, calculated the winds, watched how the clouds moved and even studied the yardage book, but no matter what I did, it just didn’t go right,” added Tseng, who finished third in Taiwan last year and won the tournament the year before.
“I haven’t felt this way for a long time,” she told reporters, even asking the media if she was under a lot more pressure than she felt.
Despite Tseng’s disappointing showing, fans still cheered for her and asked for her autograph.
“It’s at this kind of moment that an athlete needs massive support,” said Tony Liao, who was attending the tournament for the third year in a row. “Yani is a good player and she will be fine.”
Candie Kung finished the day tied for 13th with a two-round total of two-over after carding a one-over 73, by far the best position of any of the 10 Taiwanese players competing at the Sunrise Golf and Country Club in Yangmei, Taoyuan County.
“It was impossible to figure out what the wind was doing,” Kung said after her round, adding that the wind’s direction often shifted suddenly and sometimes in the opposite direction.
The best of the other Taiwanese players were Tseng Hsiu-feng and Shih Huei-ju on seven-over and tied for 45th place.