A Korean and two Thais shared the opening round lead of the ICTSI Luisita Ladies Challenge after firing identical even par 72 at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac yesterday.
Korean Euna Koh birdied the final hole to join Numa Gulyanamitta and Nimmitta Juntanaket at the lead with Philippine Pauline del Rosario and two others tied for fourth two shots behind after a 74.
Koh, still searching for a breakthrough win in the circuit, rallied from three shots down with six holes to play to catch Gulyanamitta who bogeyed the 13th and 17th holes while Juntanaket also bogeyed the tough par-3 17th to force a three-way tie in the R1 million championship sponsored by ICTSI.
Tied with Del Rosario at fourth were Nemittra Juntanaket, also of Thailand, and Indonesian Jessica Lydia.
Koh, who finished at No. 18 in last year’s Ladies Philippine Golf Tour’s Order of Merit ranking, missed makeable birdie putts to take the solo lead.
“I’m not expecting anything special but I would like to win this tournament,” said the 18-year-old Koh from Gwangju.
Gulyanamitta earlier appeared headed to taming the tight par-72 layout softened up by overnight rain with an impressive three birdie-one bogey stint after 12 holes. But the 28-year-old shotmaker cracked under pressure and extreme heat, dropping two strokes in the last six holes for a 35-37 card.