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Huang holds a 3-shot cushion

CHINA'S Huang Pin put herself in a strong position to win her first tournament yesterday when she fired a tournament low 3-under 69 for a 3-shot lead after two rounds of the US$50,000 Shanghai Championship.

Through 36 holes, the third-year pro was an aggregate 4-under 140 at the Orient (Shanghai) Sports and Country Club.

Yang Hongmei, winner of the China LPGA Tour Yantai leg in May, was alone in second after a 70, while overnight leader Rungthiwa Pangjan of Thailand slipped to a 74 and was equal third with Chinese Taipei's Chen Ming-yen (73) at four off the pace.

China's Lu Yuexia (70) was alone in fifth, and Yang Taoli, winner of the Beijing leg, was a shot further back following an even-par 72.

After starting her round on the 10th hole and registering two three-putts for bogeys in her first three holes, the 27-year-old Huang got her game going on the 15th when she got up-and-down for a birdie four. She then got a hot hand on the front nine in reeling off four consecutive birdies starting at the second hole.

The former national team player had a chance to go lower but missed two birdie putts from within three feet on the next two holes.

Huang, whose best finish as a pro was a runner-up at the 2007 Midea China Classic, said the aid of a cold towel to cover her head helped today as the temperature hovered around 36 degrees Celsius.

"Today my approach shots were pretty good with 17 greens in regulation, but my putting was in bad shape with 33 putts," said the Shenzhen-based Hubei native.

"This is a golf course where you need some strategy. Driving accuracy is more important than driving length, so I changed my driver to fairway woods on many holes, like on the fourth and the fifth holes. The rough is hard to handle and you must take care and keep the ball in play."

Huang, who has been playing on the Korean LPGA Development Tour the last two years, added she had recently been reading books about Buddhism, helping her to achieve a peaceful mind.

"Many people have said that I was always in a little rush and had an edgy temper. In the final round, I will try my best to calm down and get my first trophy hopefully."

Rungthiwa said the wind proved her undoing today. After starting on the back nine she closed with consecutive bogeys before playing par-golf back to the clubhouse.


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