WORLEY, Idaho – Peiyun Chien’s hot start could have pivoted in the wrong direction when her tee shot on the par-5 10th found the hazard left of the fairway.
Instead, she somehow made another birdie.
Chien holed a quick, downhill chip from 80 feet for birdie en route to a 5-under 67 Saturday and a share of the lead after two rounds of the inaugural Circling Raven Championship.
“That was an amazing hole,” the 30-year-old from Chinese Taipei said with a smile.
Sophia Schubert joined Chien at 11-under 133 with a bogey-free 66 in the Symetra Tour event. Min-G Kim, who opened with a 64, is one shot back after a 70. Fatima Fernandez Cano, who also shot a 64 in the opening round, and Demi Runas, are two strokes behind the leaders.
Former Idaho standout Sophia Hausmann (74) missed the cut by two shots. Bianca Pagdanganan, who began her career at Gonzaga before transferring to Arizona, is tied for 44th at 3 under.
Gabby Lemieux, who grew up in Caldwell, Idaho, and is a member of the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, shares 11th place at 7 under. Former Mead High and Washington State Cougar Amy Eneroth missed the cut by two strokes after shooting 71. Former Cougar Alivia Reynolds (74-74) also missed the cut.
Chien’s nickname is ‘Money,’ the rough Chinese translation of her name from her father’s side, and she was right on the money early in her round. She made birdies on Nos. 2, 3, 5, 6 and 8 – the nines have been flipped for the tournament – before the improbable chip-in bird on the 10th.
Chien said she had a chipping competition recently with Symetra/LPGA Tour player Laura Gonzalez Escallon, who told her to “chip lighter. I just thought about what she said and I just made it. Died it in the hole.”
She had another nice chip on the final hole and drained a six-footer to save par.
Chien, who has two career Symetra wins and extensive experience on the LPGA Tour, took advantage of her length off the tee. Her average driving distance was 276 yards while hitting 12 of 14 fairways. She made three birdies on the four par 5s.
Chien will tee off at 12:50 p.m. in the final group with Schubert, who hit 13 fairways and all 18 greens in regulation. She had a pair of two-putt birdies on par 5s.
“I just stayed patient, tried to hit as many fairways and greens as I could,” said Schubert, a former Texas standout who won the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur. “I was just focusing on one shot at a time.”
Schubert was so dialed in she didn’t realize she didn’t have a bogey until it was mentioned in a post-round interview.
“I wasn’t real close” to making a bogey, said Schubert, who is No. 11 on the Symetra Tour money list. The top 10 at the end of the season earn LPGA cards.
Several players high on the money list are within striking distance. Cano, who birdied her last three holes, is No. 5. Lilia Vu, tops on the list with $140,607, made four birdies in the final six holes to pull within four of Schubert and Chien.
Kim heated up late with birdies on 15 and 17.
“That was the game-changer,” she said. “It’s all thanks to (Friday) that I’m in this position.”
JIM MEEHAN/ THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW Peiyun Chien keeps an eye on her tee shot on the par-3 12th hole during the Circling Raven Championship on Saturday in Worley, Idaho. Chien has a share of the lead with Sophie Schubert at 1-under.
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