AMATEUR golf star Yuka Saso suffered bogeys on the final two holes and submitted a 72 for a share of the lead with two Thai pros in the first round of the ICTSI Ayala Greenfield Ladies Challenge on Wednesday in Calamba, Laguna.
Saso bounced back strong from an opening hole bogey with four birdies in the next five, including three straight from No. 4, but the reigning national champion failed to sustain her charge in tough condition and closed out her frontside stint with back-to-back bogeys.
She shares the top spot with Thanuttra Boonraksasat and Ploychompoo Wirairungreung.
“The wind blew from all over. It was so strong that I had to make a 3-club adjustment to play it through,” rued Saso.
Boonraksasat actually gained on a two-shot swing with a birdie on the par-5 13th as she saved an even-par card and kept Thailand’s bid for a third straight LPGT crown after Renuka Suksukont and Yupaporn Kawinpakorn swept the last two legs of the 2017 season, at The Country Club and South Forbes, respectively.
“I played relatively good except for my putting,” said Boonraksasat, who like Saso had two three-putt bogeys.
“The greens are tricky, some are fast, some are slow.”
Wirairungreung birdied the par-5 No. 17 late in the day to match her compatriot’s nines of 37-35.
They hold a two-stroke lead over last season’s top money earner Pauline del Rosario and Thailand’s Punpaka Phuntumabamrung.
“It was really tough out there with the wind. But it’s not yet over and I hope to shoot a better score tomorrow,” said del Rosario, who hit three birdies but made three bogeys and suffered a double-bogey on No. 4.
Thailand’s Chonlada Chayanun fired a 75, while another stroke back is Thai veteran Saraporn Chamchoi and former LPGT leg winner Wannasiri Sirisampant.
Pakpring Duangchan and Aunchisa Utama turned in identical 77s as the Thais took all but two of the Top 10 spots early in the P750,00 event backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.
LPGA and Symetra Tour campaigner Dottie Ardina struggled all day and shot a birdie-less 78 for joint 11th with Princess Superal and Supakchaya Pattaranakrueng, also of Thailand, while former LPGT champion Saruttaya Ngam-usawan, also of Thailand, made a 79 and former three-time LPGT Order of Merit winner Cyna Rodriguez groped for form coming off the holiday break, firing an 80.