VENICE, FLORIDA, October 8, 2013 – China’s youngest professional golfer Xiyu Lin took Tuesday’s first round by storm, firing a 6-under 66 on the Panther Course at Plantation Golf and Country Club to take the lead at Stage II LPGA Qualifying Tournament. The 17-year-old carded seven birdies and one bogey to take a one-shot lead over two-year Symetra Tour member Taylor Collins.Lin, who is a rookie on the Ladies European Tour and a two-year member of the China LPGA, arrived in Venice, Fla. Monday morning after competing in the LPGA’s inaugural Reignwood LPGA Classic in Beijing, China where she finished tied for 23rd. The Tianhe, China native has the experience of a veteran, boasting an impressive résumé that includes a 2011 U.S. Women’s Open appearance as an amateur, two wins on the CLPGA in 2012 and a tie for 17th finish at this year’s RICOH Women’s British Open.
While Lin hardly had time to practice on Monday, she managed to play both the Panther and Bobcat courses one week prior to the LPGA event in China. She says the novelty of competing in her first LPGA Qualifying Tournament has played to her advantage.
“I don’t really think about it today actually,” said Lin of her opening round. “I played the courses two weeks ago but I only played them once. I don’t know the courses very well, so I think we pay more attention to the strategy, like where to go and what shot to take. I don’t really think about the result. I’m just surprised I could make that many birdies.”
A close friend of two-time winner and major champion on the LPGA Tour Shanshan Feng, Lin picked up the game of golf after Feng’s father recruited her to play when she was 8 years old. With a strong opening round at Stage II LPGA Qualifying Tournament, Lin is one step closer to hopefully joining Feng on the LPGA Tour in 2014.
“That’s my dream when I first started to golf,” said Lin. “It was actually after Shanshan won the major I started to think that playing on the LPGA wasn’t impossible for me. I will be really happy if this year I can qualify. If I can’t make it this year I will try again next year. This is my first time coming to Q-School so I think I can learn a lot from this tournament. I won’t push myself too hard but I will try my best and see what happens. Just take it easy.”
Sitting one-stroke off Lin’s pace is Davie, Fla. native Taylor Collins. Golf Channel’s Big Break Mexico champion had a sense of confidence walking on to the course Tuesday morning, posting a blemish-free 5-under 67 on the Panther Course.
“It was just one of those days that I just hit a bunch of fairways, I hit a bunch of greens and whenever I was in between two clubs I happened to choose the right one every time,” said Collins. “It was just really easy and simple today.”
A group of three currently sits in third place at 4-under which includes University of Alabama alum Jenny Suh, and Sweden duo Dani Holmqvist and Caroline Westrup.
Players are competing on both the Panther and Bobcat courses at Plantation Golf and Country Club, playing each of the courses twice with no cut. The Venice, Fla. qualifier is the second stage of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament in 2013. The top 80 players and ties at the end of the week will advance to Stage III LPGA Qualifying Tournament at LPGA International in Daytona Beach, Fla., which will unfold December 4-8, 2013.