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  Hu takes Orient Masters golf lead with late birdie  



    QINGDAO, Shandong Province, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Hu Ling broke a log jam atop the leader board with a birdie on the final hole to take a one-stroke lead in the 50,000 U.S. dollars Orient Masters tournament being played in the northeastern Chinese city.

    Playing in the last group of the day under extremely windy conditions on the 6,500-yard Orient Qingdao Country Club layout, the 28-year-old Hunan native carded a one-under 71 to lead Chinese mainland compatriots Yang Jinfang, Lu Yuexia, Ye Liying, Shen Yanhua and Chinese Taipei's Shih Huei-ju who were at even par.

    Thidapa Suwannapura, a 14-year-old Thai amateur, was tied for equal seventh with Chinese mainlanders Wang Chun and Bai Yunyan after a 73. Thais Pornanong Phatlum and Rungthiwa Pangjan, Chinesemainlander Zhang Lin and Chinese Taipei's Yu Pei-lin were three off the pace after rounds of 74.

    Hu, a club pro who plays out of the Long Island club in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, erased two early bogeys when she recorded an eagle two on the 372-yard, par-four seventh with a wedge from 120 yards out.

    "I was a bit upset with those bogeys but I quickly forgot about them with the eagle two. It took one bounce and was in the hole. Iinitially thought it went off the green but some spectators pointed out that it was it in. It was pure luck but it gave me confidence that I could be up among the leaders," said the 28-year-old who is still searching for her maiden win.

    "On the 18th hole, I was within 60 yards of the green on my second shot and that is my favorite length. I put it to within six feet of the pin and then made the putt. It is great to be the early leader, it is something I have done before, but I have always had trouble staying there. I have let the pressure get to me, really little things that I need to overcome if I am going to win. I will go into tomorrow with the same strategy."

    Playing in the first group of the morning in relatively calm conditions, Lu Yuexia got to three-under through 10 holes but saw her lead wiped out in the afternoon as the wind whipped up and resulted in three bogeys over her last six holes.

    "It was good to get out in the first group as there was nobody in front of us and it was very comfortable. At the turn, there were people in front of us so my rhythm was thrown off," said Lu, who has struggled to regain her form since having a child 18 months ago.

    "At the start of my round the wind wasn't very strong, but as my round progressed it became more of a factor," she added.

    Thidapa, who was disqualified after the first round for an incorrectly-signed scorecard last week in Beijing, said she was happy to bounce back with one-over round after her inactivity.

    "Last week my tournament ended too soon and it was no fun watching others out there playing. I was really looking forward to getting out there today," said the teenager.

    "Overall, my round was okay today. The wind was really strong and I only hit 10 fairways and nine greens and took 28 putts. With the length of this course, the big factor now is driving to hit the ball long and set up a good approach. My driving average is about 250 yards and that is my strength, but there are others who hit the ball longer and that is something I need to work on."

    The Orient Masters Qingdao is a China Golf Association-sanctioned event.





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