Multi-titled Yupaporn Kawinpakorn stands at the forefront of a solid Thailand side out to reassert its might on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, upbeat but wary of their chances against a star-studded field in the first The Country Club Ladies Invitational unfolding on March 6 at the TCC layout in Laguna.
The Thais nailed five of the 12 titles disputed in last year’s LPGT with Kawinpakorn winning twice at Beverly Place and Summit Point and Pavarisa Yoktuan reigning at Splendido, Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang edging Cyna Rodriguez in a playoff at Luisita, Onkanok Soisuwan dominating the Mt. Malarayat stop, and Ploychompoo Wilairungrueng ruling the rain-shortened Champion Tour at Manila Southwoods.
But the country’s perennial regional rivals expect nothing but three days of top-notch competition in the $100,000 event put up by ICTSI, which features world No. 2 Sung Hyun Park of South Korea and the cream of the country’s pro crop plus aces from Taiwan, Japan, Malaysia and two other talented Koreans.
While Yoktuan, Soisuwan and Wilairungrueng won’t be around to backstop Kawinpakorn, Pattaranakrueang is also in the fold, along with former LPGT leg winners Renuka Suksukont, who topped the 2017 Philippine Ladies Masters, and Wannasiri Sirisampant, who won at Southwoods in 2015.
Other Thais competing are Supamas Sangchan, Chonlada Chayanun, Nattagate Nimitpongkul, Jackie Chulya, Punpaka Phuntumabamrung, Wanchana Poruangrong, Thanutra Boonraksasat, Nathikarn Raksachat, Preenaphan Poomklay, Arpichaya Yubol, Trichat Cheenglab, Ornnicha Konsunthea, Waralee Atcharerk, Dussavi Soopimjit and veteran campaigner Mookharin Ladgratok.
Though Park, given her world-class skills and immense talent, remains the player to beat in the event organized by the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., the Pinays hope to cash in on the proverbial home-court edge and contend for the championship serving as the fifth leg of the sixth LPGT season and third stage of the LPGA of Taiwan.
But focus will surely be on the crack Thai squad with Kawinpakorn and the rest all ready to prove their worth against a stellar international field at one of the country’s toughest courses.