Baguio—Amateur Lee Ji Hyeon put on a strong start to get into the mix then held sway in a scrambling finish to humble Thai Waralee Atcharerk and Chakansim Khamborn and snare the ICTSI Camp John Hay Ladies Championship crown by two on a closing four-under 65 here yesterday.
Lee caught up the Thai leaders with a blazing 31 start, spiked by three straight closing birdies at the John Hay layout, then proved steadier than her pro rivals in a pressure-packed stretch-run battle, rebounding from a bogey on No. 13 with two birdies in the next three to regain control.
Not even a bogey on the last hole could stymie Lee’s breakthrough drive as the young Korean, whose previous best was second to Chihiro Ikeda at Eagle Ridge last February, secured the crown on a 54-hole total of five-under 202 in the P1.5 million event put up by ICTSI.
Khamborn, tied with compatriot Chommapat Pongthanarak and two-up on Lee after 36 holes, kept the Korean in check in a flight behind with a 33 at the turn but fumbled with two bogeys in a birdie-less backside finish, dropping to joint second with Atcharerk at 204 after a 69.
Atcharerk, who shared the first round lead with five others Wednesday, also stayed in the hunt with a 33 but wavered at the back with two bogeys against a birdie for a 68.
The Thais later split the combined top two purses and took home P267,000 each with Lee taking the crown and the honors of matching Asian Games gold medalist Yuka Saso’s feat at ICTSI Ayala Greenfield Ladies Challenge last January.
She also became the second Korean amateur to win on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour after Hwang Min Jeong toppled the pro field at Mt. Malarayat in 2015.
Onkanok Soisuwan, winner at Mt. Malarayat last May, birdied the first three holes, held back by two bogeys against a birdie in the next eight but closed out with two birdies in the last three to match Lee’s 65 and snatch fourth place at 205 worth P125,000.
Pongthanarak hardly bounced back from a disastrous opening 40, finishing with a 33 and a 73 and slipping to fifth at 208 in the second leg of the new LPGT season organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Princess Superal never got back into the heat of the battle with a mediocre one-birdie, one-bogey effort on a course she tamed with a record 17-under 190 in ruling the inaugural staging of this event in 2013. She ended up sixth at 209.
Thai Numa Gulyanamitta matched par 69 for a 210 and compatriot Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang, winner at Luisita last April, hobbled with a 71 for a 214 for seventh and eighth, respectively, while local amateurs Eagle Ace Superal (70) and Mariel Tee (75) finished tied for ninth with Thai pro Konsunthea Omicha (77) at 218 in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZGm PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.