Home favourite Tiffany Chan Tsz-ching upstaged the professionals on a wet and wild day at Fanling to soar into contention for the Hong Kong Ladies Open.
The 22-year-old from Tuen Mun, No. 14 in the world amateur rankings, returned a composed 71 in the rain to move to within two shots of the lead held by Pan Yen Ling of Chinese Taipei with 18 holes to play.
Chan, a junior on the University of Southern California women’s golf team, is seeking her second professional tournament win following victory at the Future Open in Chinese Taipei last August.
“I hit the ball really well and I’m happy with my score because the conditions weren’t easy,” said Chan, who lies in a share of third place alongside India’s Vani Kapoor and Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul of Thailand on three-under-par. “I missed a few putts but the pin positions were tricky, so all in all it was a pretty good day.”
The former Diocesan Girls’ School student made back-to-back birdies at the ninth and 10th holes on the Old Course before dropping her only shot of the day at the par-3 12th.
“I’m really confident with my ball-striking at the moment, so I’m looking forward to the challenge of the final round,” continued Chan, a former World University champion. “I’ll try to stay focused, be aggressive when I need to be and take it one shot at a time. I’ll have my friends and family out there, so I’ve got the support.
Pan, who opened the US$150,000 event with a brilliant 63, lost her rhythm but not her lead on Saturday. The 22-year-old, who held a five-shot lead overnight, failed to record a single birdie in a lacklustre 76 to come back to the field.
“I felt pressure to match my first round,” said Pan, who has yet to win since turning pro three years ago. “I got off to a bad start and felt tense all the way through the front nine. I need to find my tempo and get my feeling back for the final round.”
Pan’s compatriot Wu Yi-ching was left to rue a double bogey at the 17th after climbing to the top of the leader board following five early birdies. The 20-year-old, who lies in second place, a shot off the lead, said: “I made a mental mistake because I was nervous, but I’m going to go out and play as well as I can in the final round.”