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Foreigners drawn to CLPGA Tour

By China Daily | China Daily | Updated: 2013-04-05 07:44

The China LPGA Tour was launched five years ago as a platform for developing domestic pros and amateurs, but that hasn't stopped players from around the region from getting in on the action.

With the Tour now offering valuable World Ranking points, more tournaments and bigger prize purses, up and coming players from around the region and overseas are taking their chances on breaking out via the CLPGA Tour.

As the 500,000 yuan Ningbo Challenge teed off on Thursday, the field included players from Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the US, England, Chinese Taipei and the Chinese mailand.

Among them is Chung Ye-na, a 24-year-old Seoul native, who is among a large group of Koreans playing full-time on the CLPGA Tour this year. Last week, she finished equal 20th at the Shanghai Classic.

"The Shanghai Classic is my first event of the year and I was not in good shape. Where I finished showed my actual form. But I am glad to get through the Qualifying tournament and to have a full card," Chung said.

"I've played this golf course for the past two days and I found out the greens are tough. I am afraid of some of the dangerous pin positions. I'm not thinking about where I should finish, rather I just hope that I can shoot two-under par each day and I will be happy if I do."

With the temperature in the Zhejiang coastal city hovering about 16-18 Celsius, the fast greens at Ningbo Orient could slow down significantly in the second and third rounds when rain is forecast.

Ajira Nualraksa, the winner in Shanghai, the opening event of the CLPGA Tour season, said her goal this week was to repeat what she did last week, but only if she can master the Ningbo greens.

"The course is so challenging. The greens are very fast and then there's a lot of slope. You need luck for this course, know where the ball can stop, avoid the slope and know the green speeds. I have to play carefully," said the Bangkok native.

Looking to go one better than she did last week is Shi Yuting. The 15-year-old amateur held a two-stroke lead through two rounds in Shanghai, but stumbled to a final-round 73 to finish runner-up one stroke behind Ajira.

"I have played Ningbo Orient. A lot of the greens are slopey and you need to have good calculation. There are a couple of par-four holes here that are a little bit long for me. I am not able to hit the greens against the wind," said the promising teenager.


Thursday's first-round leaders of the China LPGA Tour's Ningbo Challenge (Chinese unless stated):

68 - Tian Hong, Lin Tzu-chi (TWN)

70 - Li Dan, Liu Yu, Wang Xin, Pavarisa Yoktuan (THA).

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