LAUREL, Batangas – Rookie pro Hwang Min-jeong banked on a pair of back-to-back birdies to open both nines and take charge with a 68, storming to a three-stroke lead as Thai Chonlada Chayanun stumbled at the finish in the opener of the ICTSI Splendido Ladies Classic here yesterday.
Chayanun actually seized control with a running five-under card after 11 holes but failed to ride the heavy wind that blew from all over, bogeying No. 12, dropping two strokes on the next and yielding another shot on No. 14 of Splendido Taal Golf Club.
She wound up with a 71, dropping instead to joint second with compatriots Saraporn Chamchoi and Punpaka Phuntumabamrung.
“I really enjoyed my game today (yesterday),” said Hwang, who won at Mt. Malarayat as an amateur in 2015 and posted a record 16-shot romp in last year’s Philippine Amateur Open at Riviera. “I played smart and safe because of the heavy wind but I’m glad because I set up a number of short birdie putts.”
The Incheon native birdied the first two holes, added two more on Nos. 10 and 11 then tapped in for another birdie on the 15th she negated with a bogey on the next.
Princess Superal, installed as the best local bet in the absence of last week’s Beverly Place leg winner Dottie Ardina and runner-up Pauline del Rosario, blew a one-under card with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17, dropping to joint eighth at 73 with Wad Phaenchimplee of Thailand.
That enabled amateur and Princess’ young sister Eagle Ace to emerge the best-placed Filipina at joint fifth at 72 with Thais Mookharin Ladgratok and Pimpadsorn Sangkagaro with former Ladies Philippine Golf Tour leg winner Wannasiri Sirisampant and Brunei’s Valerie Tan at 74 and Marvi Monsalve and Daniella Uy turning in identical 75s with Thais Narisara Kerdrit, Preenaphan Poomklay and Nattapan Siritrai, and Korean Lee Ji Hyeon.
Multi-titled Chihiro Ikeda and former three-time LPGT Order of Merit winner Cyna Rodriguez held sway in the early going but came in ruffled by the gusts with the former limping with three double bogeys at the back that marred her 81 card and the latter, who quit due to poor form after the first round at Beverly Place, squandered an even-par card after five holes, dropping strokes in the next three holes and wobbling with an atrocious 43 for an 82 in the 54-hole tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Empire Golf and Sports and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.