Thai wrests control with 69, Pinays tumble
STA. ROSA, Laguna – China LPGA campaigner Renuka Suksukont sizzled in the first four holes then survived a rollercoaster round to seize a one-stroke lead over Taiwanese Hanna Chen with an eagle-spiked 69 as the local aces faltered at the start of the $80,000 ICTSI Philippine Ladies Masters at The Country Club here yesterday.
Suksukont, who has posted two top three finishes in the CLPGA this season, rattled off three straight birdies from No. 2 in benign condition in morning play then bounced back from a bogey and a triple-bogey mishap in the next two holes with a birdie and an eagle on Nos. 7 and 8, respectively. The 22-year-old Thai ace then hit two more birdies against a bogey at the back for a 34-35 card.
A slew of late starters from half of the 99-player field took aim at matching or bettering Suksukont’s three-under card but all failed with Taiwanese Hanna Chen birdying Nos. 11 and 12 to fall by one at 70.
"My aim was to hit the fairways and the greens and it’s a good thing my game plan turned out well,” said Suksukont, who drained three straight birdies inside six feet to gain early control.
But she found the Tom Weiskophdesigned layout’s surface too sleek to handle in the next two holes, including the par-3 No. 6 which she missed and three-putted for a 6.
“I just couldn’t control my putt,” rued Suksukont, who struck back with a birdie on No. 7 then hacked a solid 6-iron second shot from 174 yards to within six feet for eagle on the eighth.
Earlier, Cyna Rodriguez and amateur Yuka Saso looked headed to dominating the first round action in the $80,000 event sponsored by ICTSI after the former gunned down three birdies in the first eight holes and the latter matching Renuka’s two-under 34 start in the event that drew top players from the China and Taiwan LPGA Tours and the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.
LEADER. Thai Renuka Suksukont reacts after saving a par on No. 13.