Lipa City, Batangas—Nemittra Juntanaket picked up from where she left off last week, shooting a six-under 66 for a share of the lead with a late-charging fellow Thai Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang as they wrested control by two at the start of The Women’s Championship at Summit Point here yesterday.
Five days after scoring a wire-to-wire breakthrough triumph in the ICTSI Mount Malarayat Classic, Juntanaket is at it again, bucking another fumbling start with a startling run of birdies although she missed grabbing the solo lead with a bogey on the par-3 17th of the par-72 layout which boasts of 18 of the world’s premier golf holes.
That enabled Pattaranakrueang to grab a piece of first day honors as she gunned down six birdies in a flawless backside finish that lined her up for a crack at the second Ladies Philippine Golf Tour crown following her maiden romp at Luisita last year.
But Korean Hwang Min-Jeong and another Thai Pimpadsorn Sangkagaro churned out a pair of 68s and Tiranan Yoopan, also from Thailand, shot a 69 she spiked with an ace on No. 6 and Chihiro Ikeda, Ajira Nualraksa and defending champion Yupaporn Kawinpakorn turned in identical 70s in a first day battle marred by early drizzle and ended in scorching condition.
“The course is great and very easy to manage,” said Juntanaket, whose faulty start sparked hopes of another successful campaign in the P750,000 tournament sponsored by ICTSI.
The 22-year-old Pha-Yao native also made a triple-bogey to open her campaign at Mount Malarayat but bounced back to salvage a 72 and went on to win the event by six for her first LPGT triumph and second career win.
“I mishit my approach shot on No. 1 and it went into the water. But I was able to recover again and my putting clicked,” added Juntanaket, who birdied the next six holes after that double-bogey start, added two more on Nos. 9 and 11 then negated a bogey mishap on No. 13 with back-to-back birdies before dropping another stroke on the 17th.
Coming off a missed cut stint in Taiwan, Pattaranakrueang was more than satisfied with her fiery start she anchored on superb putting then said she would rather play it smart tomorrow and stay focused on the task at hand.
“My game is great compared to last week in Taiwan. I missed just three fairways and two greens and my putting had been very good,” said Pattaranakrueang, who nipped Cyna Rodriguez in playoff to snare the Luisita crown last year.
“Tomorrow (today) I will just play my game and try to control myself and be not too aggressive but smart,” added Pattaranakrueang, who made the turn with a mediocre one-birdie, one-bogey card but got into the groove and birdied Nos. 10, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 17.
Sangkagaro and Hwang hit five birdies each to negate their bogeys on the par-5 16th as they stayed in the mix after finishing second and joint third, respectively, last week in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Sharing the day’s spotlight was Yoopan, who aced the 157-yard No. 6 with an 8-iron Callaway EP using a Titleist ProV1 ball that went with her two birdies against a lone bogey for solo fifth while Ikeda, winner at Midlands last May, birdied the first two holes but failed to sustain her charge, ending up with two bogeys against two more birdies.
Yoopan received a gift from the club for her rare feat.
Kawinpakorn, who beat amateur LK Go by three here last year, settled for a bogey 35-35 while Nualraksa, who shared third place with Hwang last week, missed joining the Korean and Sangkagaro at third with two bogeys in the last three holes.
Eagle Ace Superal matched par 72 and stood behind pros Thai Saraporn Chamchoi and Pamela Mariano, who carded identical 71s, to launch her bid for a second straight low amateur honors in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Empire Golf and Sports and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.
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