• Superal ties Thai at helm with 2nd 70

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    Princess Superal blasts out of the bunker on No. 15 en route to saving par from 10 feet. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Princess Superal blasts out of the bunker on No. 15 en route to saving par from 10 feet. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Princess Superal failed to check her putting woes at the back and turned in a second straight 70, settling for a share of the lead with Thai Chatprapa Siriprakob after two rounds of the ICTSI Sherwood Ladies Classic at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Trece Martirez, Cavite on Wednesday.

    Superal bounced back from a bogey finish in the first round with two birdies at the front but muffed at least three chances inside five feet coming home and missed building a cushion heading to the final round of her maiden pro event.

    Instead, she will have to grind it out with Siriprakob, who carded a 71, in what promises to be a final round shootout for the top P150,000 purse after the duo pooled four-under 140s.

    “I missed a lot of chances at the back. I just couldn’t the get the right speed,” rued Superal, who flubbed putts inside five feet on Nos. 10, 13 and 16 but rolled in a bending 10 footer to save par on No. 15.

    Ajira Nualraksa, also from Thailand, bounced back from an opening 73 with a day’s best 69 to join Jayvie Agojo, who fired a 70, at 142, two shots off the joint leaders, while amateur Pauline del Rosario blew an impressive 34 start with a closing 38 marred by a double-bogey on No. 12 to drop to joint fifth at 143 with LPGA veteran Cyna Rodriguez, who also rebounded with a 70.

    Nualraksa, however, gets the slot in the championship flight, providing added pressure on the local ace, who is hoping to mark her pro debut with a big victory in the P750,000 event sponsored by ICTSI.

    The former US Girls’ Junior champion has actually racked up three wins on the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. as an amateur and hopes are high for the reigning Philippine Ladies Open and Hong Ladies Amateur Open champion to nail a fourth one.

    “It’s an entirely different thing – different approach, different kind of pressure. I’ll do my best and hope to live up to expectations,” said the 19-year-old Superal, who is also priming up for the LPGA Qualifying Stage II next month after turning in a impressive joint runner-up finish in the first phase of the grueling elims in California last month.

    Superal fell by two in the early going as Siriprakob, 24, birdied No. 3 but the former quickly forced a tie on a two-shot swing (birdie-bogey) on the next, went one-up as the Thai bogeyed the fifth and took a two-shot lead with a birdie on No. 6.

    But Siriprakob regained her bearing and struck back with birdies on Nos. 8, 11 and 12 as against Superal’s pars to re-take the lead, only to fall into a tie again with a missed-green miscue on No. 13.

    Rodriguez, who has dominated the country’s first-ever ladies pro circuit’s first three seasons before earning a card on the LPGA Tour, turned in a fiery finish to wheel back into contention, birdying three of the last four holes for a 33 and 70.

    Del Rosario, now the spearhead of Team The Country Club with Superal now in the pros, actually crowded Superal on top with three birdies in the first four holes. But the reigning Thailand Ladies Amateur Open champion bogeyed No. 9 then dropped two strokes on the par-5 12th and flubbed a couple of birdie opportunities and wound up with a 72.

    Thai Aunchisa Utama, who carded a 71 in the first round, faltered with a 73 and slid to seventh at 144, four strokes adrift, while amateur Sofia Chabon strung up four straight birdies from No. 9 but bogeyed three of the last four holes for a 71 and a 147.

    Lina de Guzman hobbled with a 76 after a 72 for a 148 while Anya Tanpinco carded a 74 and lay nine strokes behind at 149 with 18 holes left in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Champion, TaylorMade, Ping, Yamaha and Pacsports.

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