Tiffany Chan avoids serious injury as defending champion makes cut at Hong Kong Ladies Open
New professional sits six shots off the pace after two rounds at Fanling’s Old Course, but only after narrowly avoiding being hit in the head by a stray ball
Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching survived her first major test as a professional by making the cut at the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open on Saturday, but only after she avoided a potentially-serious injury.
As the 23-year-old made her way off the 13th tee box at Fanling’s Old Course, a wayward shot from a player on the adjacent 11th hole careered towards her head but fortunately struck the umbrella she was holding.
“I didn’t even cross the bunker, I had just left the tee box, and she hooked it and the ball hit on top of umbrella,” said Chan.
“I was so shocked as I didn’t expect it because they did yell, I think they only yelled after the ball landed. I am glad I had my umbrella, I have the mark on the umbrella.”
The defending champion, who turned professional at the end of last month having graduated from the University of Southern California, carded a three-under-par 69 in her second round as she secured a first-ever prize cheque.
The size of the number printed on that cheque remains to be seen with Supamas Sangchan of Thailand and Taiwan’s Yu Pei-lin topping the leaderboard at nine-under-par overall.
After winning the title in stunning fashion last year as an amateur, Chan finds herself at three-under and tied for 15th place following 36 holes after adding to Thursday’s level-par first round.
The Olympian will hope a final-hole bogey will not prove too costly, having recovered from dropping a shot at the seventh hole for a second consecutive day with a run of five birdies in seven holes around the turn.
“My round was a little bit smoother, but I had the three-putt on seven to start with, but then I quickly adjusted myself and birdied eight and nine,” said Chan, who was three-over-par through nine holes during her first round after a bogey at seven and double bogey at the next.
“I tried to avoid a big number like in the first round and go for the pin a bit more, so it turned out good.
“I worked a bit on the range on my between club shots, which I was having trouble with, and it was a bit better but still on and off.”
Chan, who beat Thailand’s Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul on the first play-off hole last year which ultimately secured her trip to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, delighted a packed gallery as she holed a long birdie putt on the 14th green.
But Supamas and Yu are the players to catch during Sunday’s final round, with Taiwan’s Huang Ching and first-round leader, Ainil Johani Abu Bakar of Malaysia, tied for third at eight-under overall.
Supamas has yet to drop a shot in 36 holes around the Old Course after a second-round 69, with Yu managing nine birdies during her second round of seven-under 65.
“There is a chance, there is the possibility you can make birdie on every hole,” added Hong Kong Golf Club member Chan.
“I am pretty positive, and at least after the three-putt on seven I was able to come back as it could have gone downhill from there, so I think I did a pretty good job coming back and hopefully I can carry that momentum into the final round and have another low round.”