Team Southeast Asia banked on a solid start in the morning four-ball, winning all but one of five matches to seize control of the first Pradera Ladies Challenge at the Pradera Golf and Country Club on Sunday in Lubao, Pampanga.
Thai teen star Atthaya Thitikul and partner Winnie Ng of Malaysia trounced Bernice Ilas and Nicole Abelar, 3&2, to spark the visiting squad’s opening charge before Onkanok Soisuwan, also of Thailand, and Malaysia’s Natasha Oon went 3-up after nine holes and rolled to a 6&5 rout of Tomi Arejola and Mika Arroyo.
Mikha Fortuna and Missy Legaspi broke the early spell with a 3&2 victory over Malaysians Geraldine Wong and Qistina Binti Azhar before the Thai tandem of Tunrada Piddon and Napaghach Boon-in also came away with a 3&1 victory over Team Pradera spearhead Pauline del Rosario and club bet Annyka Cayabyab.
Piddon highlighted their win with an ace on No. 2 using a Srixon 7-iron and a Titleist ProV1 ball.
“I was surprised on how well our girls played in the morning. I hope they keep it up in afternoon play,” said Phunumpa Pornperapan, one of the two skippers of Team SEA in the first-ever Ryder Cup-style event among the country’s top amateurs and their counterparts from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Thai Kan Bunnabodee and Indonesian Michela Tjan pulled off a 1-up win over Sofia Chabon and Abby Arevalo to anchor Team SEA’s auspicious start in the three-day event put up by Archen Cayabyab and Lubao Mayor Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab in consultation with coach Norman Sto. Domingo.
Despite the early setback, Team Pradera remains confident of its chances.
“We’ll have a lot of catching up to do but I’m confident our girls will be back more determined in the later in the day,” said Team Pradera co-skipper and two-time LPGA winner Jennifer Rosales.
Five matches, this time in the foursomes, are still being played at presstime with the same format to be played today (Monday). The deciding singles, featuring 10 matches, will be played tomorrow with the team to score 15.5 points winning the duel, according to the organizing Forthinker, Inc., headed by chairman Marilen Nunez.