Yupaporn Kawinpakorn hopes to make it three-in-row on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour as she banners the stellar international field in the ICTSI Splendido Ladies Classic which reels off today (Wednesday, Feb. 14) at Splendido Taal Golf Club.
The veteran Thai campaigner ruled last year’s season ending tournament at South Forbes then dominated the field in this year’s second stop at Beverly Place, making her the player to beat in the 54-hole championship serving as the fourth leg of the circuit put up by ICTSI.
Kawinpakorn, a former Philippine Ladies Open champion, didn’t see action in the 2018 LPGT kickoff leg at Ayala Greenfield won by amateur Yuka Saso and begged off from last week’s LPGT Eagle Ridge leg topped by Chihiro Ikeda via a three-hole playoff over Korean amateur Lee Ji Hyeon.
The same thrilling finish is expected in this week’s P750,000 tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. with Ikeda all fired-up for a crack at the second straight championship and the likes of Symetra Tour campaigners Dottie Ardina, Princess Superal and Cyna Rodriguez raring to end a long spell in the circuit which they used to dominate.
Focus will also be on Pauline del Rosario, the defending champion here who is coming off a strong joint 15th finish in last week’s China LPGA Tour Qualifying School.
Winner of four LPGT legs last year, Del Rosario exudes confidence as she sets out for her title-retention drive but remains wary of the opposition, including the big Thai delegation and a slew of other local aces.
Aside from Kawinpakorn, the other Thais tipped to contend for the top P150,000 purse in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZGm PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf are former leg winner Saruttaya Ngam-Usawan along with Chatprapa Siriprakob, Chonlada Chayanun and Mookharin Ladgratok.
Others in the fold are Chouvarest Chourkittisopon, J. P. Na Ayuttaya, Kanyalak Preedasuttijit, Numa Gulyanamitta, Pavarisa Yoktuan, Sarinee Thitiratanakorn, Thanuttra Boonraksasat, Thanya PattamakijsajulTiranan Yoopan and Amolkan Phalajivin, who ruled this event in 2014.
Meanwhile, a crack amateur roster is also expected to crowd the leading pros, led by Lee and fellow Korean and Hwang Min-jeong, a former winner at LPGT Mt. Malarayat, along with Kim Hui Won, Baek Yeun Jea, Park Kyung Hee, and The Country Club bets Mafy Singson, Sam Dizon and Laia Barron along with Alex Etter and Marianne Bustos.