Muangkhumsakul rallies to snare Champion Tour crown

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Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul kisses her trophy after scoring a come-from-behind victory in the ICTSI Champion Tour at Splendido, her first on the local circuit.
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Thai Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul charged back from three shots down at the back with a blazing eagle-spiked windup, closing out with a 69 to foil local bet Pauline del Rosario and compatriot Titiya Plucksataporn and capture the ICTSI Champion Tour at Splendido crown by two in Tagaytay on Friday.

Muangkhumsakul eagled No. 10 of Splendido Taal Golf Club and birdied two of the last four holes to sneak from third-to-last flight to the top of the heap at 215 as erstwhile leader Plucksataporn wavered with a 74 and Del Rosario fell short of her own comeback bid with a 68 for 217s.

“I played relatively good. Everything was in place and I’m happy I finally made it,” said Muangkhumsakul, who led in the first round with a 69 but tumbled down with a horrendous 77 in windy Thursday.

But the 18-year-old shotmaker from Bangkok, a consistent Top 5 finisher but never a winner on the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf, struck back hard in the last nine holes, her solid four-under 32 netting her the elusive crown worth $15,000, the replica of the check she received from STGC general manager Teboy Javier.


Plucksataporn, who held a two-stroke lead after 36 holes with a gutsy 71, hung tough despite Muangkhumsakul’s eagle on No. 10 with a birdie on the par-5 hole. But she fumbled with bogeys on the next, gave up another stroke on No. 14 and dropped off the lead.

Del Rosario, six behind Plucksataporn at the start of the final round after a disastrous 78 in the second day, mounted a fierce rally in an earlier flight with an eagle on No. 2 then came through with birdies on Nos. 14 and 16 to pull within one of Plucksataporn and Muangkhumsakul, raising hopes for a local victory in the event sponsored by Champion after erstwhile contenders Mia Piccio and Cyna Rodriguez faded one after the other.

But while Plucksataporn cracked under pressure, Muangkhumsakul held sway with clutch birdies, including on the par-3 17th from six feet that gave her a two-shot cushion and all but quashed Del Rosario’s crack for a playoff.

“If not for my 78 in the second round, I could’ve vied for the crown,” rued Del Rosario.

Still, the joint runner-up effort augured well for the rookie pro, who shared the combined $12,000 prize with Plucksataporn. She later vowed to do better when the next ICTSI LPGT leg, also part of the Taiwan LPGA and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., is held next Wednesday (March 15) at Mt. Malarayat.

The locals actually pinned their hopes on Symetra Tour campaigners Piccio and Rodriguez, who moved within two off Plucksataporn after 36 holes. But the former bowed out with a bogey and double bogey on Nos. 7 and 9, respectively, and the latter wilted with a bogey-marred backside 41.

Piccio ended up with a second 75 for joint fifth at 220 with Thai Narisara Kerdrit, who shot a 71, behind fourth placer Korean Kang Ji-won, who matched par 72 for the second straight day for a 219.

“I didn’t get the breaks and missed a lot of putts. Maybe this tournament was not meant for me,” said Piccio, who lost by one to Korean Lee Jeong-hwa here last year.

Yuka Saso took the top amateur honors with a 74 as she finished tied for seventh with Taiwanese Yeh Hsin-ning, who hobbled with a 75, while Taiwanese Lin Tzu-chi fired a 70 and tied Thais Thanuutra Boonraksasat (71) and Punpaka Phuntumabamrung (74) and compatriot Lee Hsin (76) at ninth at 222.

Rodriguez, who had dominated the first three editions of the LPGT backed by ICTSI, BDO, Champion, Custom Clubmakers, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Titleist and Event Captain, limped with a 78 and wound up tied with Thai Pimpadsorn Sangkagaro (75) at 223.

Princess Superal made a second 74 for a 225 at joint 19th while Dottie Ardina ended up tied at 33rd after a 74 for a 232.

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