Luisita Ladies Challenge unfolds today

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Siblings Nemittra and Nimmitta Juntanaket head a five-player contingent seeking to sustain Thailand’s dominant run on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour as they join the compact field clashing in the P1 million ICTSI Luisita Ladies Challenge beginning Tuesday in Tarlac.

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The Thais swept the last two legs of last year’s LPGT through Saruttaya Ngam-Usawan and Saranporn Langkulgasettrin while Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul ruled this year’s kickoff leg at Splendido with the Juntanakets, along with Chattara Chatwararat, Jaruporn Palakawongnaayuttawa and Numa Gulyanamitta, out to continue their compatriots’ charge in the circuit sponsored by ICTSI.

But they will be in for a tough outing with local bet Pauline del Rosario all primed up for a crack at her maiden pro victory after a joint runner-up finish at Splendido and a slew of others also raring to slug it out for the top P250,000 purse in this third of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

They include Cristina Corpus, who humbled a crack international field to score her breakthrough win at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in 2015. But the soft-spoken Fil-Am shotmaker has failed to score a follow-up up to her three-stroke triumph over Thai Walailak Satarak, turning in forgettable finishes last season and early this year.

But she hopes to rediscover her touch on the tight, challenging layout and put it all together this week to gain a crack at another championship in the 54-hole event backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.

Last year’s Orchard leg winner Chihiro Ikeda is also tipped to contend for the crown along with former leg winner Sarah Ababa and Indonesian Jessica Lydia.

Three amateurs, headed by Bernice Olivarez-Ilas, who upended the pros to win at Beverly Place in Pampanga last year, are also in the fold, along with fellow The Country Club Sofia Chabon and Japanese Kelly Marutan.

Meanwhile, the fourth leg of the circuit will be held May 31 to June 2 at the Orchard while the short but tricky Baguio Country Club will host the fifth stop on June 28 to 30.

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