Princess Superal rode on a three-birdie binge from No. 10 to fuel a fiery a six-under 66 for a share of second with world No. 4 Lydia Ko, just a shot behind two-time major winner So Yeon Ryu in individual competition while steering the Philippines to joint second in team play at the start of the Asia Pacific Cup at the Pondok Indah Golf Course in Jakarta, Indonesia yesterday.
Failing to gain much headway with a one-birdie frontside card, Superal bucked the winds that started to pick up at the back as she birdied the first two holes on crisp iron shots then added another on the par-3 12th to find herself in the mix. She drilled in another on the 15th then struck a brilliant approach shot to within three feet on the par-5 18th.
“I played consistently, especially with my drives. I also hit solid iron shots and my putting clicked at the back as I made a couple of up-and-down saves to preserve by bogey-free card,” said Superal.
But while Superal flourished with a closing 31, Epson Tour campaigner and ICTSI teammate Pauline del Rosario wavered with three bogeys in the last nine holes, including on No. 18. She ended up with a 75 as the Philippines slipped to joint second with Japan in team competition with a three-under 141 aggregate.
Ko actually turned in a more explosive finish, holing out with a birdie-eagle feat to churn out her version of a 35-31 at the par-72 layout, whose tricky surface bedeviled the games of the rest of the 44-player cast with only nine players able to break par.
But Team Korea 2 rose to the challenge as Ryu fashioned out a bogey-free 65 (34-31) round to wrest control in individual play while teaming up with Bomee Lee, who also shot a solid 67, to put the team way out in front by nine at 12-under 132.
The Philippines and Team Japan 2 matched 141s for joint second with New Zealand slipping to fourth as Ko’s teammate Momoka Kobori faltered with a 76 for a 140.
Team Thailand 2, made up for Patcharajutar Kongkraphan and Saraporn Chamchoi, assembled a 143 for joint fifth with Team Korea 1 as world No. 8 Hyo Joo Kim struggled with a three-birdie against one double bogey and a bogey card for a 72 and You Min Hwang shot a 71.
Superal is coming off a break following an exhausting campaign on the Thailand Ladies PGA and Thai Women’s PGA marked by two runner-up finishes, including a playoff setback to Aunchisa Utama in the Thai LPGA Championship last May.
The former US Girls’ Junior champion actually didn’t get that much respite as she had to undergo intensive training with swing coach Bong Lopez at the Manila Southwoods while doubling up in sharpening her short game and putting for the inaugural championship that features team and individual competitions.
The 54-hole event, the second of a series of tournaments on the Ladies Asian Tour following the season-opening DB Group 36th Korea Women’s Open last March, offers a prize purse of $500,000 in team play and $250,000 in individual competition.
The individual champion will receive $100,000 while the runner-up will get $57,500.
Unlike Superal, Ryu, the 2011 US Women’s Open champion and winner of the 2017 Chevron Championship, banked a blistering start to take command, birdying three of the first four holes then closing out her big frontside with two birdies in the last three. The six-time LPGA Tour winner slowed down a bit at the back with two birdies, the last matching Superal’s last-hole feat to seize the solo lead at 65.
With teammate Bomme Lee also producing a solid 67, including closing back-to-back birdies, South Korea moved to dominate the team play, posting a combined 12-under 132 for a whopping nine-shot lead over Japan and the Philippines.
Kokona Sakurai shot a 70 while Maria Shinohara carded a 71 for a 143.