Silang, Cavite—Bianca Pagdanganan outduelled Atthaya Thitikul in a thrilling frontside shootout, coming away with a blistering charge to fire a four-under 67 and wrest a two-stroke lead over the Thai ace at the start of the Philippine Amateur Open Golf Championships at Riviera’s Langer course here yesterday.
The Asian Games bronze medalist bucked the wind and birdied four of the first seven holes at the front, rallying from two down off Asiad gold medal teammate Lois Kaye Go and one-off Thitikul to seize control in the early going of the 72-hole championship sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation.
“The wind was so strong so I had to analyze everything. But I played aggressive at the front and got my birdies,” said Pagdanganan, enjoying top form coming off a victory in last week’s National Doubles with Jed Dy.
Korean Jang Sung Hun also took a two-shot lead over Singapore’s Lucius Toh in the men’s side, cashing in on an early tee-start to shoot a 69 with Gen Nagai and Weiwei Gao tied at third with 72s and Japanese Atsushi Ueda carding a 73 for fifth followed by Aidric Chan and Thai Vanchai Luangnitikul, who turned in identical 74s.
Pagdanganan, the former Philippine Ladies Amateur champion, actually had a mediocre two-birdie, two-bogey backside start, enabling Go, playing in a flight ahead of Pagdanganan, Thitikul and Singapore’s Callista Chen, to take charge early on a strong start at the backside of the hazard-laden par-71 layout.
Go birdied three of the first four holes to negate a bogey on No. 14 and took command with a 34. But she bogeyed the first two holes at the front and hobbled with a 37 to slip to third with a 71 in the event held as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour and backed by Cignal and Metro Pacific.
The fancied Thitikul, who won the inaugural Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific crown in Singapore last year, edged Pagdanganan after nine holes, 35-36, but failed to match the Pinay ace’s scorching frontside charge, settling for one birdie for a 34 and 69.
Korean Kim Heeji, runner-up to compatriot Hwang Min-Jeong last year, salvaged a 72 while Linna Loh, also of Singapore, carded a 73 followed by Kim Seo Yun and Nicole Abelar, who shot identical 75s, and Kang Da Yun, who made a 76, and Japan’s Tae Saito, Junia Gabasa and Thai Kultida Pramphun, who all turned in 77s.
Mikha Fortuna groped for form with a pair of 40s for an 80 in a tie with Inez Ng of Singapore and Bernice Ilas with Chen limping with an 81.
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