MIYA Legaspi birdied two of the last three holes for a three-under 69 to take the lead in individual play and tow the Philippines to a share of the top spot with powerhouse South Korea at the start of the Queen Sirikit Cup at the Saujana Golf and Country Club in Malaysia on Wednesday.
The Filipina was one stroke ahead of China’s Shi Yuting and two ahead of Korean Lee So Young and Japan’s Haruka Morita.
Legaspi, the Asian Youth Games gold medalist, got to three under after nine holes at Bunga Raya Course before trading two birdies for two bogeys on the back nine.
SEA Games champion Princess Superal stumbled with a double-bogey on the par-3 No. 17 and settled for a 74 as the Philippines pooled a 143 aggregate in the three-to-play, two-to-count format event. Pauline del Rosario didn’t count with a woeful 84.
Korea also had a 143 first-round score, two ahead of Japan and China, while was four behind at 147.
Australia, which dominated last year’s edition of the annual tournament, struggled with a 149 and dropped to joint sixth with Indonesia.
The Filipinas, sponsored by the Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines, bucked the heat and a late tee-time on the tough course with narrow fairways and elevated greens.
Legaspi made birdie on the par-5 No. 1, dropped a stroke on No. 4 but had three straight birdies from No. 5 for a 34.
Superal had a chance to put the Philippines in solo first place but pulled her tee shot into the water hazard on No. 17 and signed for a 74, enabling Korea to gain a piece of the lead in the 54-hole championship.
“If they play steady, we have a big chance to finally clinch it,” said skipper Cora Suntay of WGAP. “We hope to make the most of their early start in the second round.”
The Philippines is eyeing its first ever Queen Sirikit Cup crown, while Legaspi is looking to duplicate Dottie Ardina’s individual feat in the 2011 edition of the event in India.