Thai edges closer to crown with 69

Thai edges closer to crown with 69

Ploychompoo Wirairungreung Ernie Peñaredondo

CARMONA, Cavite , Philippines — Thai Ploychompoo Wirairungreung slowed down with a 69 as she struggled with her putting form but kept her bogey-free run at the Legends course with a superb wedge game as she pulled away by four over Princess Superal and two others after two rounds of the ICTSI Champion Tour at the Manila Southwoods here yesterday.

From a lead-grabbing seven-birdie binge in her first game at the bunker-laden layout, the power-hitting Wirairungreung settled for three this time but spiked her 34-35 card with a terrific short game that set up pars in five times that she went out of regulation, enabling her to go bogey-free in 36 holes.

With a 10-under 134 aggregate, the 23-year-old shotmaker from Chiang Rai zeroed in on the coveted crown, this being a Taiwan LPGA Tour-sanctioned event, as she padded her overnight two-stroke lead to four heading to the final 18 holes of the first of two Champion Tour events put up by ICTSI.

It is also Wirairungreung’s second crack at a Ladies Philippine Golf Tour diadem after losing by two to local amateur Yuka Saso in the circuit’s kickoff leg at Ayala Greenfield last January.

But with a huge lead and a peerless form – and unless her nearest pursuers come up with spectacular rounds in the last 18 holes – the tall Thai could well be in for a trouble-free ride to the throne.

Superal also missed seizing solo second with a late bogey on No. 7, the backside of her game, where her par putt from six feet lipped out. But her 68 put her alongside amateur Hou Yu-Chiang of Taiwan, who scrambled for a 71, and Thai Supamas Sangchan, who rallied with an eagle-aided 68, at 138.

“That miss (on No. 7) was huge. I would’ve been down by only three,” said Superal.

Another Taiwanese amateur Hou Yu-Sang turned in a 70 for solo fifth at 139 while Thai Saranporn Langkulgasettrin, the inaugural winner of the Philippine Ladies Masters in 2016, bounced back from a 72 with a 68 to gain solo sixth at 140.

Chihiro Ikeda, who struggled with a 75 in the opener of the $75,000 event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. Wednesday, shot the day’s best 66 but the LPGT Eagle Ridge winner last February’s bogey-free 33-33 round could only push her to solo seventh at 14.