• Thai catches Saso at helm with 69

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    Thai Chatprapa Siriprakob hits her drive on No. 10. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Thai Chatprapa Siriprakob hits her drive on No. 10. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Thai Chatprapa Siriprakob charged back with a three-under 69 then pounced on Yuka Saso’s late bogey to grab a share of the lead after two rounds of the P500,000 ICTSI Eagle Ridge Ladies Invitational at Eagle Ridge’s Aoki course in Gen. Trias, Cavite on Thursday.

    Three behind Saso and three other amateurs after 18 holes, Siriprakob ran off three birdies in the first seven holes in second-to-last flight then went on to finish with a 34-35 card to put herself in contention for the championship on her very first try on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour at 139.

    “I needed to have a good round today (yesterday) to have a chance at the title,” said Siriprakob, the latest of a slew of Thais who have made the local circuit their base the last two years. “I’m happy to have a nice score despite humid condition.”

    Saso, who led the siege of the amateurs with an impressive opening 67, also looked headed for a another good round despite fumbling with a double-bogey on No. 5 and a 37 at the front as the 14-year-old reigning national junior match play champion bucked tough pin placements and gunned down birdies on Nos. 12 and 15. But the 14-year-old shotmaker and national team mainstay hit an errant drive on the par-4 17th and holed out with bogey for a 72. She stayed at five-under overall to drop to a share of the lead with Siriprakob.

    “I had a hard time targeting the pins at the back, most of which were strategically placed on the sides,” said Saso, who nevertheless stayed on course for her first victory in the circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.

    Another Thai pro Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang gained one stroke on Saso with a one-under 71 to gain the other spot in the championship flight just two strokes adrift at 141.

    Princess Superal, who with The Country Club teammate Princess Superal and Korean Hwang Min-jeong opened with identical 69s Wednesday, reeled back early with back-to-back bogeys, dropped another stroke on No. 6 but fought back with birdies on Nos. 13 and 15 to save a 72. She pooled a 142, three shots adrift.

    “I had a bad start but somehow recovered at the back,” said Superal, seeking her fourth victory on the pro circuit backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Champion, TaylorMade and Pacsports.

    Korean Kang Ji-won also carded a 73 and tied Hwang, winner at Mt. Malarayat last year who faltered with a 74, at 143.

    Sarah Ababa, who scored a breakthrough at Sherwood last year, took the cudgels for the local pros but stood five strokes off the joint leaders at 14 after a 73 while Lovelyn Guioguio turned in a second 73 for solo eighth at 146.

    Del Rosario, who rallied with a 32 at the back to force a three-way tie for second Wednesday, shot herself in the foot with a 42 after nine holes and ended up wit a 78 to tumble to joint ninth with Anya Tanpinco, who shot a 74, at 147.

    The rest are too far behind to contend with former leg winner Jayvie Agojo limping with a 76 for a 148, last year’s Luisita leg champion Cristina Corpus hardly improving with a 74 for a 150 and Chihiro Ikeda limping with a 78 for a 151.

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