THALAND’S Kanphannitnan Muankhumsakul birdied three of the last six holes for a three-under 69 and a one-stroke lead over Mia Piccio at the start of the $75,000 ICTSI Champion Tour at Splendido on Wednesday in Tagaytay.
The 18-year-old golfer from Bangkok gunned down four birdies inside eight feet to negate a missed-green bogey on No. 12.
Piccio shot six birdies but settled for a 70 on a hot but blustery day.
“I played pretty good today. My putting and irons were simply good,” said Muankhumsakul, who also played in in Morocco, Abu Dhabi and India.
“The wind was really strong and I’m lucky made good,” said the 18-year-old Muangkhumsakul.
Piccio, the Symetra Tour veteran also seeking her first victory on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, looked headed for a big start and the early lead in the 54-hole championship as she gunned down three birdies against a bogey on the back nine but could not sustain it on her homeward nine.
Piccio also expressed satisfaction with her play in tough conditions on the Greg Norman-designed layout, with only seven players scoring par or better.
“The win really blew hard from the start and I was also lucky to have shot a 71,” said Piccio.
Pauline Del Rosario marked her pro debut in style, birdying three of the first five holes to wrest early control. But she made a triple-bogey on the par-3 12th and a bogey on the next.
Del Rosario, however, bounced back with back-to-back birdies from No. 15 and finished with a 71 in a tie with Taiwanese Yeh Hsin-ning, who also sizzled with three birdies in the first five holes but fumbled with a bogey and a double-bogey at the back.
Amateur golfer Yuka Saso was three-under through 10 holes but the reigning World Junior Girls champion stumbled with a double-bogey on the par-5 11th and dropped another stroke on the next to settle for a 72 in joint fifth with Thais Thanuttra Boonraksasat and Titiya Plucksataporn.
Cyna Rodriguez, who dominated the first three seasons of the country’s premier circuit put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., groped for form with a two-bogey, one-birdie stint, her 73 putting her in a share of ninth with former LPGT leg winner Sarah Ababa, Japanese Mika Nagaishi, Thai Pimpadsorn Sangkagaro and Taiwanese amateur Hung Jo-hua.
Some of the fancied bets struggled from start to finish, including former leg champion Wannasiri Sirisampant of Thailand, who hobbled with a 74 in a tie with Taiwan top player Chen Yu-ju, Lee Hsin and amateur Chen Hsuan, also of Taiwan.
Last year’s LPGT Royal Northwoods titlist Saruttaya Ngam-usawan limped with a 76, many-time LPGT leg winner and former US Girls’ Junior winner Princess Superal faltered with a 77 and Symetra Tour veteran and former LPGA campaigner Dottie Ardina had an 80 in a round marred by three double bogeys.
Ardina stood at joint 49th, 11 shots off Muangkhumsakul and barely within the cut-off line of top 50 after 36 holes of the event backed by ICTSI, BDO, Champion, Custom Clubmakers, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Titleist and Event Captain.