A tight leaderboard marked the start of the Orient Masters Wuhan Challenge on Thursday as Zhang Yunjie of China, Thai Wanchana Poruangrong, Singaporean Amanda Tan and Chinese Taipei's Huang Ching all shot three-under 69 to share the lead in the opening round.
Chinese amateur Wang Xinying was one shot back on 70 at the RMB500,000 China LPGA Tour event in Hubei province, tied with South African Connie Chen and Thais Pimpadsorn Sangkagaro, Aunchisa Utama and Jackie Chulya.
As the players endured rain and breezy conditions in the early morning, Zhang, a 19-year-old from Hainan Island, put together a solid opening round over the Orient Wuhan course in the quest for her maiden pro win.
Her round included four birdies and a lone bogey at the 343-yard, par four 10th hole.
"Although I'm one of the leaders today I still feel a little bit disappointed with my performance on the second and fifth holes. I was 50 to 60 yards away on my approaches for both holes but I missed the greens. They were very good birdie chances and I just made par," said Zhang, equal 29th at the Le Coq Sportif Beijing Ladies Classic last week.
"The greens are very slow today and I lost some 12 to 15-foot birdie chances. Tomorrow my goal is put it over the hole."
After missing the cut in her only previous appearance in Wuhan, Taipei native Huang said she was happy to be in contention. Her round included five birdies and two bogeys after starting the day on the Orient Wuhan back nine.
"I am satisfied with my five birdies today. The score I will give myself is 95. I kept telling myself to be calm the last two holes (the eighth and the ninth holes) and successfully made birdies," she said. "My goal before I came was to make the cut, keep stable and try my best."
Tan, winner of the 2017 BridgeCC CLPGA Beijing Heritage during her rookie season, dropped her only stroke at the 159-yard fourth and moved into contention with four birdies over the final 10 holes.
The 19-year-old felt she had something to prove after missing the cut by five strokes last week in Beijing.
"The greens are hard and slow, it's difficult to control the ball. I am happy with my score today after the bad performance in Beijing," said Tan. "My goal this year is to focus on my shots not the result and practice more with my chip shots and putting."
Defending champion Saranporn Langkulgasettrin, the current CLPGA Tour Order of Merit leader, is absent from the 110-player field as the Thai star is in Alabama for this week's US Women's Open.