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Supamas up by 2 in Xiamen; Park soars in Incheon

Supamas Sangchan put herself in contention for her second China LPGA Tour victory of the year yesterday when the Thai fired a 6-under-par 66 for a two-shot lead in the first round of the Xiamen Orient Masters in southwest China’s Fujian Province.

Chinese amateur Liu Wenbo was equal second with Thais Prima Thammaraksa and Budsabakorn Sukapan at the Orient (Xiamen) Golf Country Club. Another Thai Parinda Phokan was fifth after a 69.

Supamas, winner of the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open in June, played flawless golf in the sunny but windy conditions through 17 holes, reeling off seven birdies before closing with a bogey five at the 375-yard last.

“Today I just plan to play my game because before this week I have no confidence, no feeling with my shots. But today my shots are perfect and I had very good putting, the feeling comes back today,” said the 21-year-old Sukhothai native.

In Incheon, South Korea, US Women’s Open champion Park Sung-hyun closed with a pair of birdies to join Minjee Lee and Kim Min-sun at the top of the leaderboard on 6-under after the first round of the LPGA’s US$2-million KEB Hana Bank Championship on Thursday.

World No. 2 Park, playing in the marquee group alongside top-ranked South Korean compatriot Ryu So-yeon and No. 3 Lexi Thompson, carded six birdies in a bogey-free round at the SKY72 Golf and Resort, west of Seoul.

American Thompson ended the day three strokes back after a 69 while world No. 1 Ryu carded an even-par 72. Australia’s Lee, meanwhile, offset two bogeys with eight birdies, while Korean Kim finished her round with five straight birdies.

Park has enjoyed an incredible rookie season in the United States and leads Ryu and Thompson on the official money list with almost US$2 million from 18 events.

American veteran Cristie Kerr, who just four days ago won the Lacoste Ladies Open de France for her first victory on the Ladies European Tour, scored 67 to lie one shot off the lead.

Spaniard Carlota Ciganda, who beat Alison Lee in a sudden death playoff to win the event last year, finished on even par with American Lee at 2-over.

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