Wannasiri Sirisampant withstood Chihiro Ikeda’s two-eagle feat at the back and held on to a one-stroke lead with a gutsy 72 even as Cyna Rodriguez made her move with a 69 in the second round of the ICTSI Forest Hills Ladies Challenge in Antipolo on Thursday.
Sirisampant, 26, blew a four-stroke lead at the turn on a triple-bogey mishap on No. 11 and Ikeda’s hot backside charge but regained control with a clutch birdie on No. 15 coupled with the latter’s late double-bogey as the Thai ace pooled a 34-38 and a 142 heading to the final 18 holes of the P750,000 championship sponsored by ICTSI.
Ikeda actually fought back from four down with an eagle-2 on No. 10 off a solid drive and a wedge shot from 50 yards then bounced back from a double-bogey on the next with another eagle from eight feet on the par-5 14th to take charge at two-under overall.
But she dropped off the pace just as quickly with a double-bogey No. 17 on an errant hybrid approach shot although she birdied the 18th from six feet to card a 36-35 and stayed just behind Sirisampant at 143.
“I’m still trying to adjust my swing, especially off the tee. With the help of coach Bong (Lopez), I hope to minimize my mistakes tomorrow (today),” said Ikeda, chasing her second title after snapping a long spell with a victory at Orchard last year.
But if there’s one player who could spoil the Sirisampant-Ikeda final round shootout for the top P150,000 purse, it could be Rodriguez.
The former three-time Ladies Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit winner recalled her fierce form at the back and produced the tournament-best three-under 69, moving from six down to within three shots at 145 for solo third.
Rodriguez, also a former LPGA Tour campaigner, strung up a pair of back-to-back birdies from Nos. 11 and 14 but missed moving closer to Sirisampant with a bogey on the final hole.
Meanwhile, Pauline del Rosario, winner of three of the last four legs of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., pressed her bid early with back-to-back birdies, only to struggle after a run of five pars. She fumbled with two bogeys and a double-bogey against one more birdie and wound up with a 73.
She joined erstwhile joint second running Thai Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang, who faltered with a 75, at 147, five strokes behind Sirisampant.
Mookharin Ladgratok also birdied the first two holes, went three-under after 11 holes but wavered with a double bogey and two bogeys in the last seven holes. She ended up with a 73 for sixth while fellow Thai and former LPGT leg winner Amolkan Phalajivin squandered an even par card with three bogeys in the last four holes for a 75 and a 154.
Mia Piccio birdied two of the last five holes to recover from a disastrous 83 start with a 73 but the Symetra Tour campaigner remained too far behind at 156 in a tie with Apple Fudolin, who bounced back with a 75 in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.