Pimnipa Panthong of Thailand outgunned Pauline del Rosario in a duel of joint leaders, wresting a two-stroke lead despite a two-over 74 even as fancied Princess Superal reeled farther back with a 75 in the second round of the 2015 Champion Infinity Philippine Ladies Open Golf Championship at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club Thursday.
The reed-thin Pimnipa, out to keep the country’s premier ladies crown which compatriot Supamas Sangchan won the last two years, mixed two birdies with the same number of bogeys at the back where they teed off but flubbed a pair of 10-footers for par on Nos. 5 and 6 to close out with a 38-36 card at Wack Wack’s West layout.
But that proved enough to net her the solo lead at 143 as the rest, including Del Rosario, wavered in difficult condition made more daunting by tough pin placements that sent the scores soaring and the erstwhile contenders tumbling down the leaderboard.
“Putting was not good,” said Pimnipa, a former Malaysian Ladies Open winner.
Del Rosario, who matched Pimnipa’s 69 in the opener of the 54-hole event sponsored by Metro Pacific Investments Corp., failed to shake off a poor start of 40 marred by a double-bogey on No. 12 and bogeys on Nos. 14, 16 and 18 with only a birdie to show on No. 13.
“I couldn’t get a good read on my putts as the pins were placed on difficult lies,” rued Del Rosario, who, however, settled down at the front with a 36 for a 76 and a 145.
That was the same output put in by Kanyalak Preedasutthijit, who fumbled with a 74, although the other Thai, Chayanit Wangmahaporn virtually bowed out of the title race with a 154 after a 77.
Sam Martirez, a teammate of Del Rosario and Superal in the ICTSI-The Country Club stable, turned in the day’s best of 72 to jump to solo fourth at 148 although she lay five strokes off Pimnipa heading to the final 18 holes of the event presented by Champion Infinity and organized by Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines.
Superal, who stumbled with an opening 74 in the tournament she was heavily favored to win following a run of five victories to close out the 2014 season, opened with a birdie on No. 10 but struggled with her iron game the rest of the way. She fumbled with two bogeys on Nos. 18 and 6 and dropped two strokes on the seventh on an errant drive and a poor safety shot that found the water.
“Like in the first round, I just couldn’t hit my second shots that way I wanted. I’m a bit down but I feel I can still make it if I can play well in the early holes tomorrow,” said Superal, dropped to 149, six shots adrift, in the company of teammate Yuko Saso, who shot a 75, and former Asian Youth Games gold medalist Miya Legaspi, who limped with a 78.
Annika Cedo carded a 76 for a 151 while Sam Bruce stood a shot farther back at 152 with an impressive 73, for ninth in the tournament supported by Mega Fiber, the Philippine Golf Tour, PacSports and Shell Philippines and C2 as official beverage and Vermogen as official apparel.
The other backers of the event are Impact Magazine, Business Mirror and Inquirer with Duty Free Phils., Edwin Gardiola, MVGS – Martinez, Vergara, Gonzales and Serrano, Atty. Gilberto Duavit, Mec Networks Corp., Manila Golf Ladies, Forest Hills Ladies, Tagaytay Highlands Ladies, Alabang Ladies, Wack Wack Ladies, Spectrum Graphics, Omnisource, Forest Hills Golf and Country Club, Holland Blooms, Malu Gamboa and Jollibee as hole sponsors.