Thai Wichanee Meechai flashed top-notch shot-making and putting and turned in a four-under 68 to all but wrap up the ICTSI Splendido Ladies Invitational crown on her very first stint on the local turf.
While the rest of the 28-player starting field struggled for the second straight day at the up-and-down, wind-raked Splendido Taal course with over par scores, Meechai made it look easy with five birdies that negated her second straight bogey on the difficult No. 10.
With a seven-under 137 aggregate, the Thai ace stormed to a 13-shot lead over compatriot Pennapa Pulsawath, who skied to a 77 but still stayed at second with a 150 as the rest, including the local aces, floundered in demanding condition.
Anya Tanpinco remained the top local player at 151 after a 77 while Sarah Ababa fell a shot farther back at 152 after a 78 as reigning back-to-back Order of Merit winner Cyna Rodriguez hardly improved from a disastrous 80 opening with a 76 for a 156.
Rodriguez, who made a quintuple-bogey on the par-4 No. 4 Wednesday, looked headed for a big rebound from a double-bogey, bogey mishap on Nos. 5 and 6 with three straight birdies to close out her frontside stint. But after a run of pars at the back, she dumped her third shot into the water hazard on the par-5 18th, missed the green then three-putted for that quadruple bogey.
In contrast, Walailak Satarak, another Thai bet, fought back from an 82 with a 72 to move to solo fifth at 154 while compatriots Saraporn Chamchoi and Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang made a pair of 78s to tie Chihiro Ikeda, fumbling with an 80, at 155.
Amolkan Phalajivin, who upended Rodriguez to rule this event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. last year, also stumbled with a 79 and kissed her title-retention bid goodbye with a 156 in a tie with Rodriguez.
But Meechai, who will turn 22 next month, made sure the title would be staying with the Thais as she pulled away from the pack with a two-day display of world-class shotmaking.
Four ahead of Pulsawath after 18 holes, Meechai birdied No. 1 then added another on the sixth with Pulsawath and the rest scrambling to even salvage pars on the layout’s unpredictable surface.
She was 9-up on Pulsawath at the turn and though she dropped another shot on the par-4 10th, Meechai more than made up for it with back-to-back birdies from the 11th before drilling another birdie putt on the par-3 15th.