Wichanee Meechai birdied two of the last four holes to fire a three-under 69 then watched compatriot Pennapa Pulsawath drop three strokes in the last two holes to seize a four-stroke lead as the Thais dominated the local aces at the start of the ICTSI Splendido Ladies Invitational at Splendido Taal Golf Club in Tagaytay Wednesday.
Meechai, who honed her talent and skills on the Ladies Asian Golf Tour, flashed top form despite playing on an unfamiliar terrain, overcoming her three bogey mishaps with six birdies, the last two on Nos. 15 and 16 that got her past Pulsawath, who blew a two-under card with a bogey, double-bogey finish for a 73.
Sarah Ababa birdied No. 1 and held on with a slew of pars only to waver at the end of a scorching but windy day, bogeying the last three holes for a 74, five shots off the hot-starting Meechai.
Anya Tanpinco birdied No. 17 to salvage a two-over card and tie Ababa at fourth while Chihiro Ikeda recovered from a disastrous 40 at the front with two birdies against a bogey in the last nine holes, turning in a 75 for solo fifth in the P500,000 tournament serving as the second leg of the eight-stage ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.
Cyna Rodriguez, who won half of the eight legs last year on her way to retaining the LPGT Order of Merit crown, also birdied the opening hole but made an atrocious 9 on the par-4 No. 4 after an errant drive and poor second and third shots. She took a drop on her fourth shot then reached the green in seven and two-putted for that quintuple bogey. She never recovered from there, stumbling with four more bogeys for an eight-over 80, her worst card on the circuit she has dominated the past two years.
Amolkan Phalajivin, who foiled Rodriguez’s three-win romp with a victory here last year, hit four birdies but made too many bogeys – five – and fumbled with two double bogeys for a 77.
She was joined in sixth place by fellow Thais Saraporn Chamchoi and Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang and Korean amateur Hwan Min Jeong, who birdied No. 2 but made four straight bogeys from No. 4.
Jayvie Agojo, winner of last year’s second leg at Riviera, skied to a birdie-less 82 in a tie with Lina de Guzman and Thai Walailak Satarak, behind the 81s of amateurs Annika Cedo and Koh Eu Na of Korea.