Hwang surges to 5-shot lead
Playing a course for the first time under windy condition poses no problem for Hwang Ye-nah.
Banking on accurate putting, the Korean fired an eagle-spiked six-under-par 66 Wednesday to build a five-shot lead over old rival Princess Superal in the ICTSI Champion Tour at Malarayat in Lipa, Batangas.
Showing the form that made her a wire-to-wire winner over Superal in the 2015 ICTSI Ladies Open at Southlinks, the 23-year-old Hwang, who teed off at the back, bogeyed No. 12 but recovered with birdies on Nos. 13 and 15 before downing the day’s lone eagle from seven feet on the par-5 17th off a 5-wood second shot from 190 yards.
Hwang sustained her charge at the front with four birdies in the first seven holes before getting stymied by a bogey on the par-3 eighth.
“I played pretty good, especially my putting,” said Hwang. “The wind was too strong and I’m lucky to turn in a sub-par round.”
Korean amateur Hwang Min-jeong matched par 72 at the Mt. Malarayat composite course, where she reigned in 2015 after besting Superal and Cyna Rodriguez, to share third place with Yuka Saso, low amateur in the kickoff leg at Splendido, Taiwanese Chang Hsuan-ping and Thai Piyathida Ployumsri.
Janya Morrakotpan, also of Thailand, and Ai Tanaka of Japan turned in 73s while Rodriguez birdied the last two holes at the front to save a 74 for joint ninth with local bet Apple Fudolin, Fil-Am Cristina Corpus, Japanese Mayumi Chinzei and Thai Saranporn Langkulgasettrin, winner of the inaugural Philippine Ladies Masters at Alabang last December.
Rookie pro Pauline del Rosario and Syemetra Tour-bound Dottie Ardina and Mia Piccio were lodged at 76. —ROY LUARCA