China golfers battle for Zhuhai Classic Crown

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China's Shi Yuting put herself into contention for her first professional win on Friday when the Beijing teenager shot a six-under 66 to take a one-stroke lead through two rounds at the Zhuhai Classic golf tournament.

Following 36 holes at Zhuhai Orient Golf Course in Guangdong province, the 17-year-old was seven-under 137 in the opening tournament of the 2015 China LPGA Tour season.

Overnight leader Zhang Weiwei could only muster a round of even-par 72 to sit one off the pace, while South Koreans Chung Ye-na (71) and Lee Ye-seul (68) were two shots back. Defending champion Babe Liu (71) of Chinese Taipei was in fifth, a shot further back.

Starting on the back nine in the early morning rain, Shi, China's national team golfer, took advantage of the soft greens to card eight birdies and two bogeys in her round.

"I did well today. This golf course is narrow and my tee shots were straight and I hit many fairways. I made some good mid-range putts from 10 to 25 feet," said Shi.

"I didn't have a good start and I dropped a shot at my No. 5 hole (the 13th hole) when I missed a four-foot putt for a par. But since then I was better and steady. On the whole, I had a good mental game and kept calm."

Shi, who turned pro in October following an outstanding amateur career, said her game plan for Saturday was the same in concentrating on each shot and not getting ahead of herself by focusing on winning.

"A win is a dream to us. This is my rookie season's goal. But you shouldn't think about it while you are playing. I need to keep my same rhythm. I would be happy if I won, but I wouldn't be sad if I didn't."

The Hainan-based Zhang registered eight straight pars to start her round before carding a birdie four at the ninth. She then picked up another stroke at the par-five 11th to get to eight-under and take the lead. Her round then unraveled starting at the par-four 14th hole when she shot consecutive bogeys.

"I played solid at the front nine, I just missed some short putts. When I made the first bogey (at the 14th hole) I became a little bit panicked so I made a three-putt bogey the next hole," said Zhang, also a national team player.

"I'm happy to play with Shi Yuting in the final group tomorrow. I will try to be relaxed and consistent. I won an amateur event last April and I haven't forgotten how to win."

Also thinking of victory on Saturday was Liu from Chinese Taipei, who just won a 36-hole local event.

"Today I hit two balls into the water and made double bogey (on the sixth hole). I feel bad, but last year I came from behind and won. I'm looking forward for next round."

China's Zhang Yunjie (70) was the top amateur in the field at one-under 143.

Zhuhai Orient Golf Course is a 6,167-yard, par-72 layout designed by TK Pen.

Following are the Zhuhai Classic second round leading scores:

137 - Shi Yuting (China) 71-66

138 - Zhang Weiwei (China) 66-72

139 - Lee Ye-seul (South Korea) 71-68, Chung Ye-na (South Korea) 68-71

140 - Babe Liu (Chinese Taipei) 69-71

142 - Ajira Nualraksa (Thailand) 70-72, Suh Bomi (South Korea) 71-71

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