Princess Superal blew a huge lead with a shaky backside start but finished with flourish, birdying the last four holes as she battled back from three down to regain a one-shot lead over Thai Thanutra Boonraksasat with a 69 after two rounds of the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Ladies Championship in Carmona, Cavite yesterday.
Superal found her touch off the mound late in another scorching day at the Legends course then bucked tough pin placements to spike her big comeback with four straight putts inside 10 feet for a 33-36, staving off three Thai rivals all set to foil the ace Filipina shotmaker’s drive for the crown in the P1.5 million event serving as the sixth leg of the 2018-19 Ladies Philippine Golf Tour circuit.
“I just couldn’t hit it good off the tee in the early going and some of my approach shots were off until I regained my touch and rhythm at the finish,” said Superal, who sparked hopes of a three-day assault of the bunker-laden layout with a bogey-free 64 Tuesday.
But she stumbled with a bogey on No. 10 and though she rolled in a 20-footer for birdie on No. 14, she struggled from there, dropping another stroke on No. 2 and falling off the leaderboard as Boonraksasat, taking advantage of an early tee start, recovered from a bogey on No. 2 with five birdies in the next seven holes then added two more at the back to finish with a 66 and wrest the lead at 10-under 134.
Superal’s fiery finish, however, shoved the reigning LPGT Order of Merit champion back on top at 133 with Chonlada Chayanun joining the title chase with a 135 after a 67.
Multi-titled Yupaporn Kawinpakorn made it a three-player threat for Thailand as the Pradera Verde leg winner last December birdied three of the last six at the front for a 69 to stay in the mix at 136.
Chihiro Ikeda fired a bogey-free 68 but stood five shots off Superal at 138 while another Thai also carded a 68 for solo sixth at 140 heading to the last 18 holes of the tournament put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Thai Punpaka Phuntumabamrung, three behind Superal at the start of the round, limped with a 73, enabling Pauline del Rosario (69), Taiwanese Huang Yu-ning (70) and Korean Hwang Min Jeong (68) to tie her at seventh at 140.
Only the top 20 plus ties from among the 51 starters advanced to the final round with former three-time OOM winner barely making it at 146 after a 75 with Gretchen Villacencio fighting back with a 68 and Saraporn Chamchoi matching par 72 for identical two-over overall cards.
Sofia Chabon, who turned in an impressive 68 in the first round, groped for a 74 but emerged the lone amateur to make it to the final round at 142 in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Empire Golf and Sports and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.