LIPA City – Saraporn Chamchoi came out of a rain-delayed round with four pars to preserve a four-under 68 as she wrested a one-stroke lead from fellow Thais Yupaporn Kawinpakorn and Onkanok Soisuwan and local bet Marvi Monsalve at the start of The Women’s Championship at the Summit Point Golf and Country Club Wednesday.
Chamchoi, who used to compete in the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour before moving over in the China and Taiwan LPGA tours in pursuit of ranking points, flashed a near-impeccable iron game to produce five birdies, including three from close range, and endured an hour-long wait due to heavy rains to complete a 34-34 card.
“It (weather delay) didn’t affect my game since I really hit it well approaching the greens and the putting surface was great, too despite the rain,” said Chamchoi, who placed sixth in her last tournament at ICTSI Ayala Greenfield won by amateur Yuka Saso last January.
Monsalve failed to sustain a career-best three-birdie start but kept a three-under 69 for joint second with Kawinpakorn and Soisuwan, who are both seeking a follow-up to their victories in the Beverly Place and Mt. Malarayat legs, respectively, of this year’s LPGT sponsored by ICTSI.
“I took off with a lot of fire,” said Monsalve who rolled in putts from 18 feet on the first and from 30 feet out on the next before banging in another birdie from 10 feet on No. 3. “But the two rain delays kind of slowed me down.”
Chihiro Ikeda, winner at Eagle Ridge last February, gunned down five birdies against three bogeys to wrest solo fifth while amateur LK Go put herself in early contention with a 71 built around four birdies against a double-bogey and bogey.
Cyna Rodriguez, seeking an end to a long slump and the Thais’ domination of the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.-organized circuit, recalled her fierce form and stood among the early leaders with a 33 start spiked by back-to-back birdies from No. 8.
But she stumbled in the tougher backside of the par-72 layout, dropping strokes on Nos. 12 and 16 and flubbing a couple of birdie chances to settle for a share of eighth with Go at 71.
Pauline del Rosario, on a break from the China and Taiwan LPGA tours, recovered from a double-bogey mishap on the par-3 No.6 with birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 but could only churn out a bogey-birdie effort at the back for a 72 in a tie with Thai Chonlada Chayanun and Ayaka Morimitsu of Japan.