Winnie sizzles for share of HK Ladies Open lead

Winnie Ng in action during the opening round of the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open

HONG KONG: Winnie Ng Yu Xuan took full advantage of a rare sponsor’s invite to tear up the field on the opening day of the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open on Friday.

With nine birdies in a spectacular round of five-under 67, the national amateur took a share of the lead alongside South Africa’s Connie Chen, Chinese Taipei pair of Chen Szu-han and Hsieh Yu-ling – the 2017 runner-up.

After three days of gloomy conditions, day one of the US$150,000 tournament presented the 120 competitors with glorious sunshine at the Old Course of Hong Kong Golf Club.

The 16-year-old powered her way through with birdies in the first and last two holes to complete the best round of her life to lie ahead of defending champion Thailand Supamas Sangchan and local favourite and Olympian Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching, who are bunched with two others in tied-seventh at three-under.

Ng, supported by her father Kenny all the way through the course, was delighted with her effort. “I was just hoping for the best and didn’t expect so many birdies today. I prefer to play in these (hot and humid) conditions, because at home in Malaysia, it is almost the same,” said Ng.

“I knew I was playing well, but I tried not to think about it, but then I had a bit of a slump and I got really nervous. I told myself to calm down, and that I am an amateur so it is about doing the best you can, and not so much about the placing, and I am glad I finished well,” she added.

Five Malaysians are in the field this week with professionals Nur Durriyah Damian, Aretha Pan and Ainil Johani Abu Bakar all enjoying solid rounds of one-under 73 to sit in a share for 16th placing. A disappointing 77 saw Michelle Koh lying in a share for 82nd.