China's Wang Yanhua overcame an erratic start to card a one-under-par 71 in second round play at the 50,000-U.S.-dollar Wuhan Challenge to move one stroke clear of three players in China LPGA Tour action Saturday.
Thailand's Tanaporn Kongkiakrai with a 67, the best round of the day at Orient Wuhan, was one shot off the pace, tied with China's Yan Panpan (68) and 14-year-old national team member Zhang Weiwei (72).
Thailand's Porani Chutichai, the current CLPGA Tour Order of Merit leader, was equal fifth after a 69, deadlocked with compatriot Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang (73), and China's Tian Hong (72), Li Wei (73) and Huang Meihao (69).
Wang, the overnight co-leader, opened with a bogey followed by consecutive birdies. She then double-bogeyed the par-three fourth after finding the bunker on her tee shot and then missing the green on her next shot.
The 30-year-old Shandong native demonstrated her resiliency at the next when she sank a 25-foot putt for birdie, moving her back to even for her round through the first five holes. After a birdie two at the par-three eighth to make the turn at 35, Zhang bogeyed the par-three 14th before finishing up with a late birdie two at the 16th hole. Through 36 holes she was two-under 142.
"Those two rounds are extraordinary. This is my first time to lead on the Tour because I shot two unusual rounds and the top players didn't play great. I felt excited and happy because I put myself into a great position," said the Guangdong-based pro.
"I had a hot putter today, made many long-distance putts. What a pity I dropped two shots at one hole (the fourth). Tomorrow, I will be in the spotlight and might have pressure. But who knows? I prefer a peaceful mind out there. There's a lot of things at stake on Sunday, but I won't think about them.
"I took up golf in 1999 and haven't had a good finish on the Tour yet."
Hainan-based Zhang, the overnight co-leader, finished strongly with birdies on three of her last four holes to keep in the hunt.
"Another good round, except for several three-putt holes. I had three-putts from 15 feet at the seventh hole and three-putts from three feet at the ninth hole. I lost focus and was careless at those holes. I had a great start and a great finish, but struggled with my putting in the middle. Those mistakes can be avoided in the final round. Anyway it is still a good day," said the top teen who had many relatives and friends following her as her father comes from Wuhan.
"This is my third time to play in Wuhan, I'm used to such a situation and didn't panic," she said. "Sunday I will try not to think about it. If those things popped into my mind, I might have trouble. I played from the last group in many amateur events. I think I have ability to handle it as well as possible."
Tanaporn roared into contention with a round that included an eagle three on the ninth hole, in addition to five birdies and two bogeys.
"Yesterday, I missed a lot greens and was better in greens in regulation today. My putts also can sink. Top-five is my goal. Now I am not thinking about the win," said the 19-year-old.
The third year of the CLPGA Tour features 14 events, culminating in the 250,000-U.S.-dollar China Ladies Open this December in Xiamen, Fujian province.