QUEEN SIRIKIT CUP: Legaspi takes charge with 69, tows Phl to joint lead



Miya Legaspi birdied two of the last three holes to fire a three-under-par 69 and emerge the surprise leader in individual play while towing the Philippines to a share of the lead with powerhouse South Korea at the start of the Queen Sirikit Cup at the Saujana Golf and Country Club in Malaysia late Wednesday.

Legaspi, the Asian Youth Games gold medalist, actually leaned on a fiery start of 34 at the par 37-35 Bunga Raya Course, highlighted by a three-birdie string from No. 5 and her late birdies negated her bogey-bogey mishaps from No. 11 to find herself on top of the stellar field from 12 other member countries.

Miya Legaspi

Her sterling round put her one stroke ahead of China’s Shi Yuting, who carded a 70, and two up on Korean Lee So Young, who turned in a 71 in a tie with Japanese Haruka Morita.

Team ICTSI’s Princess Superal stumbled with a double-bogey on the par-3 No. 17 and settled for a 74 as the Philippines pooled a 143 aggregate in the three-to-play, two-to-count format event. Superal’s teammate Pauline del Rosario didn’t count with a woeful 84.

But Legaspi and Superal, also the AYG silver medalist, got the job done, at least in the first round, as they tied the fancied Koreans in the lead, two ahead of Japan and China, which assembled identical 145s while India stood four shots behind at 147.

Australia, which dominated last year’s edition of the annual tournament, struggled with a 149 and dropped to joint sixth with Indonesia.

The Philippines, whose stint is sanctioned and sponsored by the Women’s Golf Association of the Phils. (WGAP), bucked the heat and a late tee-time on the tough course with narrow fairways and elevated greens with Legaspi ramming in a birdie on the par-5 No. 1. She dropped a stroke on No. 4 but rattled off three straight from No. 5 for a 34.

She, however, reeled back with bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12 but birdied Nos. 16 and 18 to preserve a three-under card and a view of the top in individual competition.

Superal could’ve given Team Phl the solo lead but pulled her tee-shot into the water hazard on No. 17 and signed for a 74, enabling Korea to gain a piece of the lead in the 54-hole championship.

“If they play steady, we have a big chance to finally clinch it,” said skipper Cora Suntay of WGAP. “We hope to make the most of their early start in the second round.”

The Philippines is eyeing its first ever Queen Sirikit Cup crown with Legaspi on course to duplicating Dottie Ardina’s individual feat in the 2011 edition of the event in India.

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