Thai Wichanee Meechai marked her debut on local turf in style, winning the ICTSI Splendido Ladies Invitational crown with a record 15-stroke romp over compatriot Walailak Satarak and Sarah Ababa despite a one-over 73 at Splendido Taal Golf Club in Tagaytay Friday.
Meechai actually nailed it right after the second round of the 54-hole tournament with a solid 69-68 output that put her 13 shots ahead of another Thai Pennapa Pulsawath, reducing the final round to a victory walk for the former Ladies Asian Golf Tour campaigner.
She actually birdied the opening hole but made a double bogey on No. 5 and dropped another stroke on the eighth. Still, her 38 at the turn hardly put a dent on her huge lead as the rest also struggled in demanding condition at one of the country’s most challenging courses.
Satarak, Ababa and Pulsawath turned in similar 35s at the front but failed to even cut Meechai’s double-digit lead.
With a six-under 210 total, Meechai, who hit one birdie at the back for a closing 35, won by 15 over Ababa, who also had a 73, and Satarak, who fired the day’s best 71, for identical 225s, besting the 11-stroke victory posted by Cyna Rodriguez in last year’s John Hay leg of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Meechai took the top P100,000 purse with Ababa and Satarak splitting the combined second and third prizes worth P115,000.
The victory likewise prompted the Thais to commit themselves to play on the other legs of the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, including the LPGT Wack Wack Invitational, the third leg of the eight-stage circuit, on April 28-30.
Another foreign player, Hwang Ye-nah of South Korea, topped the tour’s kickoff leg at ICTSI Ladies Open where she nipped local amateur ace Princess Superal by one last month.
Saraporn Chamchoi also carded a 73 to finish solo fourth at 226 while Pulsawath limped with a 79 for fifth at 229 followed by Chihiro Ikeda, who wound up with a 231 after a 76.
Rodriguez, who dominated the first two editions of the country’s first ladies pro tour, finished with a second 76 and settled for joint seventh with Anya Tanpinco, who reeled with an 81, at 232 while another Thai,
Supakchaya Pattarankrueang made a second 78 and tied for ninth with Korean amateur Hwang Min Jeong, who shot a 76, at 233.