South Africa’s Connie Chen Shares The Lead At Xiamen Open

South Africa’s Connie Chen held on for a share of the lead in Saturday’s second round of the Xiamen Open at the Orient Golf and Country Club in China.  The recent Tenerife Open de Espana champion followed an opening 68 in the inaugural €250,000 with a two-under-par 70 to share pole position with Belgium’s Chloe Leurquin and amateur Ssu-Chia Cheng from Chinese-Taipei.  LET rookie Leurquin and Cheng both vaulted into contention with rounds of 68.

Two-time LET winner Ashleigh Simon started the second round three off the pace and slipped to joint 25th after a 73 in the second round.  Compatriot Stacy-Lee Bregman looked in danger of missing the cut after an opening 75, but the Country Club Johannesburg pro rallied with an even-par 72 to finish two shots inside the cut-line on three over 147.  Chen to return a spotless card after reeling in birdies at the par-four sixth and par-three 11th.

“My long game wasn’t great today and I struggled off the tee over the front nine.  I got it going on the back nine, but I hit a bad three-wood off the tee at the 12th again.  I was left with an uphill putt for par from about seven meters and the ball just hung on the lip.  It fell after about five seconds, so that was a quite entertaining,” the 22-year old said.  Simon, by contrast, had an adventurous tour around the par-72 championship layout.  The three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion was four over after bogeys at the first, second, fifth and sixth holes and reeled in six straight pars before her first birdie putt fell at the par-four 13th.

The 23-year-old Joburg pro also bogeyed the 14th, but responded with back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th to finish on even-par 144.  Bregman racked in 15 straight pars in the first round and was equally solid in round two.  Starting on the back nine, the reigning Zambia Ladies Open champion bogeyed the par-four 13th and turned one over.

She parred the first six holes on the front nine before dropping her second shot at the seventh, but hit back immediately with an eagle three at the eighth to get back to level par.  Bregman vaulted to a tie for 48th after closing with another par at the long ninth.

Photo: Connie Chen
Photo credit: Justin Klusener