Chonlada Chayanun
Thai, Japanese share lead in the wind, rain
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - July 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Thai Chonlada Chayanun hit two late birdies at the front to turn in a plucky three-under 69 in wet, windy conditions, catching Japanese Mayuna Furukawa at the helm at the start of the ICTSI Pradera Ladies Classic at the Pradera Verde Golf and Country Club in Lubao, Pampanga yesterday.

The brave 91-player field from at least nine countries, including some of the leading campaigners on the LPGA of Taiwan (TLPGA) and the cream of the country’s pro crop, endured two delays due to rain spawned by Typhoon Falcon with the power-hitting Furukawa leading the assault on the par-72 layout with chip-in eagles on the two par-5s at the front. 

She went five-under with back-to-back birdies from No. 12 against a bogey on the 10th but lost her poise in tough conditions with bogeys on two of the last three, including the last, a par-5 hole, to settle for that three-under card.

That enabled Chayanun, who teed off at the backside, to gain a piece of the lead as the Thai, still in pursuit of a breakthrough victory on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, gunned down three straight birdies from No. 11 and recovered from a three-bogey, one-birdie card in the next seven holes with back-to-back birdies from No. 6 to match Furukawa’s 69 in the early going of the $80,000 event that was played under summer rules.

But six churned out identical 70s, including local bet Daniella Uy, four others carded similar 71s, led by Princess Superal, while seven matched par 72s at the bunker, hazard-laden layout which played longer than its 6,346 yardage in soft conditions, ensuring a wild chase for top honors in the last 36 holes of the event put up by ICTSI and sanctioned by TLPGA.

Despite her shaky finish, Furukawa, 22, said she “played pretty good” and looked forward to contending for the crown and improving her joint 29th finish in the ICTSI Manila Golf Ladies Classic last April.

“I like the course, I’m used to playing in this kind of condition,” said Furukawa from Nagoya Prefecture, who chipped in for eagle from 48 yards off a superb 5-wood second shot from 200 yards on No. 3 (529 yards). After a missed green bogey on No. 7, she knocked down another eagle from 36 yards off another solid drive on the 510-yard No. 9 and a 7-iron second shot from 190 yards.

But she wavered at the finish, three-putting No. 16 from 60 feet and failing to rescue a par from the bunker on the last.

Chonlada, who had contended for a number of LPGT titles but still looking for that strong finishing kick, sizzled early with those three-birdie binge but stumbled with missed green bogeys before recovering her form at the finish.

“The course is perfect and it suits to my liking,” said Chonlada.

Uy, runner-up at Royal Northwoods last April, actually made the turn with an impressive four-under effort, spiked by a three-birdie string from No. 11. But the former Junior World titlist stumbled with two bogeys in the last five holes at the front and dropped to joint third.

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