Muangkhumsakul bags Champion Tour crown
Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul sizzled at the back to tally a three-under-par 69 Saturday and clinch the ICTSI Champion crown by two shots over Filipino Pauline del Rosario and fellow Thai Titiya Plucksataporn at Splendido Taal Golf Club (STGC) in Tagaytay City.
Trailing by three shots, Muangkhumsakul eagled the par 5 No. 10 and birdied two of the last four holes to sneak in from third-to-last flight to topple erstwhile leader Plucksataporn, who shot a 74, and Del Rosario, who shot a 68.
Counting earlier rounds of 69, 77, Muangkhumsakul pooled a 215, besting the 217s of Plucksataporn and Del Rosario, who was hobbled by a 78 in the second round.
“I played relatively good,” said the 18-year-old Muangkhumsakul, a consistent Top 5 finisher but only a first time winner on the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.
“Everything was in place and I’m happy I finally made it.”
Muangkhumsakul’s effort was worth $15,000. She received the replica of the check from STGC general manager Teboy Javier.
Plucksataporn countered Muangkhumsakul’s eagle with a birdie on the same hole to lead by one, but bogeyed the 11th and gave up another stroke on No. 14 to yield the lead.
A distant six shots off Plucksataporn at tee-off, Del Rosario rallied with an eagle on No. 2 then birdied Nos. 14 and 16 to carry the Philippine challenge after Symetra Tour campiagners Mia Piccio and Cyna Rodriguez blew their bid.
While Plucksataporn wilted under pressure, Muangkhumsakul showed composure with a six-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th that gave her a two-shot on Del Rosario.
“If not for my 78 in the second round, I could’ve vied for the crown,” said Del Rosario, a promising rookie pro who pocketed $6,000 like Plucksataporn.
Del Rosario vowed to do better when the next ICTSI LPGT leg, also part of the Taiwan LPGA and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc., is held March 15 at Mt. Malarayat.
Piccio faded with a bogey and double bogey on Nos. 7 and 9, respectively, for a 75 and joint fifth at 220 with Thai Narisara Kerdrit (71), behind fourth placer Korean Kang Ji-won, who carded 72 for 219.
Local bet Yuka Saso took top amateur honors with a 74 as she finished joint seventh with Taiwanese Yeh Hsin-ning (75).
Rodriguez finished tied with Thai Pimpadsorn Sangkagaro (75) at 223. —ROY LUARCA