Thai Pimnipa Panthong fended off Pauline del Rosario’s late charge with clutch putts then nipped compatriot Kanyalak Preedasutthijit by one with a closing one-over 73 to rule the Champion Infinity Philippine Ladies Open Golf Championship on her very first try at Wack Wack’s West course on Friday.
Pimnipa, 17, bucked a missed green bogey on No. 16 with tough par putts in the last two holes, including a delicate six-footer on the 17th that kept her overnight two-shot lead intact and a pressure-packed 16-footer for par on the final hole to frustrate Kanyalak’s playoff bid.
“I am very excited with this win. It’s my first time in the Philippines and I got a major crown,” said Pimnipa as she received her trophy and bouquet of flowers from WGAP president Marissa Romano and Wack Wack president Benjamin Abalos Sr.
Pimnipa, who matched del Rosario’s lead-sharing opening 69 before taking charge by two despite a 74 Thursday, finished with a 216 and kept Thailand’s domination of the country’s premier ladies golf championship which now pro Supamas Sangchan won the last two years at Mt. Malarayat and Forest Hills.
Kanyalak matched par 72 in another tough day at the West, including a save par from the bunker on the 54th hole, and completed a 1-2 finish by the Thais at 217 while del Rosario hardly recovered from a 76 with a 74 and ended up third with a 219.
The top ICTSI-The Country Club bet had five bogeys against three birdies, the last on No. 14 from four feet that kept her in the hunt. A par on the next coupled with Pimnipa’s missed green bogey on the 16th pulled del Rosario within two.
But the 16-year-old De La Salle-Zobel junior hit an errant drive on the 17th and wound up with a bogey, ruining her title bid in the championship presented by Champion Infinity and sponsored by Metro Pacific Investments Corp.
“My timing was off and there was no rhythm,” rued del Rosario, who also gave away a crucial stroke after dumping her third shot from 80 yards on the par-5 No. 13 into the greenside bunker and flubbing an eight-foot par putt bid.
Rosalinda Poss shared the spotlight by scoring a hole-in-one on No. 3. She used a TaylorMade 3-iron for her feat in the company of Isabela Miravite, Mikaela Arroyo and Annyka Cayabyab.
Yuka Saso, also of ICTSI-TCC, and Miya Legaspi fired a pair of one-under 71s and finished tied for fourth at 220 while Sam Martirez blew a two-under card at the turn with a 42 as she limped with a 76 for a 224.
Reigning US Girls Junior champion Princess Superal closed out her campaign the way she started it – in poor form as she signed for a 76 and a 225 in a tie with Sam Bruce, who shot a second straight 73.
Hong Kong’s Vivian Lee rallied with a 70 for a 226 while Bianca Pagdanganan carded a 71 for a 227 and ended up 10th in the event supported by Mega Fiber, the Philippine Golf Tour, PacSports and Shell Philippines and C2 as official beverage and Vermogen as official apparel.
Isabela Miravite nailed the Division A crown with a 262 after an 86, Singapore’s Katsuko Blalock carded a 93 for a 294 and nipped Filipina Stella Barnes, who made a 97, in a two-hole playoff to cop the Division B crown while So Han Uy topped the 36-hole Sampaguita division with an 87 and 180.