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Feng holds steady in wet and windy Weihai

By Chen Xiangfeng | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-07-07 21:27

After finishing runner-up the past two years, China's Feng Shanshan served notice on Friday that only a win will do at this week's Kumho Tire Ladies Open as the World No. 6 opened with a six-under 66 for a two stroke lead in a rain-shortened first round in Shandong province.

With heavy rain and wind delaying the start of play at Weihai Point by 30 minutes, followed by a 90 minute play stoppage, 24 players were left on the course when play was called at 7.14pm.

South Koreans Jeong Hye-won and Seo Hee were equal second on 68 at the China LPGA Tour-LPGA Tour of Korea co-sanctioned event, while compatriots An Na-rin, Yu Su-yeon, Choi Yoo-lim and Kim Min-ji were a stroke further back at three-under 69.

Starting her early morning round from Weihai Point's back nine, China No. 1 Feng rebounded from a bogey five at the 12th hole (her third hole) with consecutive birdies at the 15th and 16th holes to make the turn at one-under 35.

"I bounced back at the 15th hole and gained a shot before the one-and-a-half hour delay. After play resumed the scoring conditions became better without rain or wind. The greens were softer and you could be a little more aggressive," said the Guangdong native, a winner of four tournaments worldwide since October.

On her back nine, the front nine, Feng carded five birdies, including a 21-foot putt from off the green that found the hole.

"The golf course is obviously not long (at 6,146 yards) but you need accuracy off the tees, especially with the strong wind. To be more accurate I played more with a three-wood or hybrid off the tee. If you get it in the fairway you have an opportunity from the fairway. But it becomes very tough if not," she said.

"I have had enough runner-ups here. Each time I want to win coming into this week, but in the meantime I tried to have fun out there."

After making only four cuts in 12 tournaments this year, the veteran Jeong was delighted with her strong start in a bogey-free round that featured four birdies.

"The heavy rain obviously affected every player in the morning, but I stuck with my plan and limited the bad effects," said the 26-year-old, currently 102nd on the KLPGA money list. "My swing was good and got me more than 50 meters off the tees today, which gave me more chances at the par-five holes."

Yu, a 23-year-old from Gyeonggi-do, the province surrounding Seoul, said the rain delay allowed her to rethink her game plan and it worked when play resumed.

"Relatively satisfied with this round. My strength is my long game. But during the first half of the year I lost that part of game. I just regained it recently," she said. "I want to keep this good swing and putting. I need to emphasize putting for the next two days and I believe that a good finish is coming."

Jang Ha-na, the World No. 13 who quit the US LPGA Tour in May to return to her aging parents in Korea, struggled to an eight-over 80. Starting on the back nine playing with Feng she made bogey six at her first hole (the 10th hole) and then went out of bounds at the next. This was followed by four putts for a quadruple-bogey eight. She played her back nine, the front nine, at even par.

Weihai Point Golf Resort is a 6,146-yard, par-72 layout designed by GolfPlan.

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