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Sunday, December 17, 2017 26° Mostly cloudy

Thai seizes clubhouse lead as top local bets struggle

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By Waylon Galvez

Canlubang — Renuka Suksukont of Thailand carded a three-under par 69 to seize the clubhouse lead in the first round of the ICTSI Philippine Ladies Masters yesterday at The Country Club here.

Suksukont had a roller-coaster round of one eagle, six birdies, two bogeys and a triple bogey to lead a cast of 99 players from both the China and Taiwan LPGA, Korea and the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.

Yuka Saso carded a 71, two shots off the pace. (Czar Dancel | Manila Bulletin)

Yuka Saso carded a 71, two shots off the pace. (Czar Dancel | Manila Bulletin)

The three-day, 54-hole event offers a purse of $80,000.

“I missed the green on 6 and made four putts. The clubface was open a little bit (second shot). I don’t know what happened,” said Suksukont who is marking her second stint here.

“I’m just glad that I recovered quickly with that birdie and an eagle,” added Suksukont, who set up a four-foot putt for eagle with a six-iron from 174 yards.

“I’ll try to hit the fairway and green, and just don’t think on anything, just like today’s first round,” added Suksukont, who is aiming for her first title outside of Thailand where she won two tournaments.

Fil-Japanese amateur Yuka Saso opened with a 71 in a tie with Korea’s Lee Tai-Ling and Ploychompoo Wirairungreung while Korea’s Hsieh Yu-Ling, Na Hee Won and amateur compatriot Jung Jo-Hua and China’s Liu Yan and another Korea were tied at 72.

The 16-year-old Saso, whose mother Fritzi is from San Ildefonso, Bulacan, said she’s delighted with her first round performance considering her struggles in previous tournaments.

“Walang kumpiyansa lately, parang ok. In my last tournaments hindi masyado maganda laro ko. So nag-aalangan pa ako. That’s why I’m happy,” said Saso, who mixed three birdies with two bogeys.

Cyna Rodriguez, one of the top local bets, settled for a 73 despite a solid start of three birdies in the first eight holes.

“I played solid, I stuck with the game plan – hitting the greens and I made a lot of good putts,” she said. “On the 15th I had a good look for birdie, but forced it and had a bogey… same thing on 17.”

“On 18 I shot my drive to the left, hit the rough, and three-putted. I think I just have to play steady. If my putting is still good, I can shoot four, five under (second round),” added the 26-year-old Rodriguez.

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