Korean amateur Hwang Min-jeong sizzled at the back and shot a four-under 68 then pounced on Chihiro Ikeda and Princess Superal’s last-hole bogeys to wrest a one-stroke lead at the start of the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Ladies Invitational here in Gen. Trias, Cavite on Wednesday.
Hwang, coming off a runaway victory in the Philippine Amateur Championship at Riviera last month, broke a two-birdie, two-bogey stint at the front with a pair of back-to-back birdies (10-11 and 15-16) at Aoki’s backnine to jump from the middle of the pack to the top of the heap in the third leg of this year’s Ladies Philippine Golf Tour put up by ICTSI.
Ikeda, winner at Forest Hills last year who placed second to Thai Yupaporn Kawinpakorn in the second leg at Beverly Place last month, and Superal looked headed to joining Hwang at the helm but both fumbled with bogeys on the par-4 18th. They dropped to joint second with another Korean amateur Lee Ji Hyeon, who also bogeyed the tough 18th, for 69s.
Thai Pavarista Yoktuan also wavered with a closing bogey and settled for a 70 while Thanuttra Boonraksasat, also of Thailand, birdied two of the last six holes to save a 71 for sixth.
Dottie Ardina, seeking an end to a string of mediocre finishes in the country’s premier ladies circuit which she used to dominate, gunned down three birdies but made three bogeys for a 72 while Cyna Rodriguez hardly recovered from a double-bogey mishap on the par-3 No. 4 with three birdies against two bogeys. The former three-time LPGT Order of Merit winner slid to joint eighth with Apple Fudolin, former LPGT leg winner Saruttaya Ngam-usawan and Korean amateur Kim Hee Ji.
Thai Chonlada Chayanun, who has posted a number of runner-up finishes in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., blew an impressive 33 start with a harrowing backside stint marred by a triple bogey, a double bogey and three bogeys against a lone birdie. Her closing 43 instead dropped her to joint 17th at 76, eight shots off the pace.
Hwang, eyeing a follow-up to her 2015 LPGT feat where she humbled the likes of Superal and Rodriguez at Mt. Malarayat, shook off an early struggle with birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 then after a three-par run, she birdied the par-3 15th then added another on the par-5 next hole to cap a closing 32.
Ikeda also came through with a pair of back-to-back birdie feats at the front that sandwiched her lone bogey at No. 4 but settled for a slew of pars from No. 7 to 15 before finally nailing another birdie on No. 16. It was actually a good bogey finish after the Fil-Japanese drove out-of-bounds on No. 18.
Superal, another dominant LPGT figure both as an amateur and pro, recovered from a bogey mishap on No. 1 with birdies on Nos. 3, 6, 10, 12 and 16 but failed to return a six-footer for par after missing the 18th green.