Thai grabs early lead in Ph Ladies Masters; Saso 2 shots down
Thai Renuka Suksukont carded a roller-coaster three-under-par 69 Thursday to post a one-shot lead over Taiwanese Hanna Chen at the start of the $80,000 ICTSI Philippine Ladies Masters at The Country Club in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Showing the form that made her the Singha-SAT Toyota Championship winner back home, Suksukont canned three straight birdies from No. 2 then rebounded from a bogey and a triple-bogey in the next two holes with a birdie and an eagle on Nos. 7 and 8, respectively.
The 22-year-old Suksukont, who has also posted two top three finishes in the China LPGA this season, then hit two more birdies against a bogey at the back for a 34-35 card.
Chen, on the other hand, birdied Nos. 11 and 12 to tally 35-35.
“My aim was to hit the fairways and the greens and it’s a good thing my game play turned out well,” said Suksukont, who could have pulled away were it not for a four-putt triple bogey on the par-3 No. 6.
“I just couldn’t control my putt,” said Suksukont, who recovered with a birdie on No. 7 then hacked a solid 6-iron second shot from 174 yards to within six feet for eagle on the eighth.
Amateur Yuka Saso turned out to be the Philippines’ best scorer with a 71, sharing third place with five others in the 54-hole event that lured 99 players from the China and Taiwan LPGA Tours as well as the Philippine Ladies Golf Tour.
Cyna Rodriguez, a three-time LPGT Order of Merit winner, went four-over in the last four holes, including a closing double-bogey and settled for a 73.
Saso flubbed a couple of birdie putts and muffed a par-putt from six feet and landed in a tie with Taiwanese Wu Yi-ching and Lee Tai-ling, Thai P. Wirairungreung and fellow amateurs Hung Jo-hua of Taiwan and Hwang Min-jeong of Korea.
Despite a shaky finish, Saso said she was satisfied with her opening round.
“I played relatively good. The fairways are long and the greens are tough to read. But I had no problem with my game,” said Saso.
Chinese Du Mohan, another amateur, matched par and was bunched with Thai Numa Gulyanamitta, Taiwanese Hsieh Yu-ling of Taiwan, Chinese Yan Liu and Korean Na Hee Won, who missed joining Chen at second with bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16.
Chihiro Ikeda, a two-leg winner on the LPGT, joined Rodriguez, Korean Jang So-young, Thai Wanchana Poruangrong and Chinese Yimeng Zheng at 73.
Pauline del Rosario, the hottest local player with four victories in the last six LPGT legs, finished with four bogeys against two birdies for a 74.
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