• Thai-PH duel looms as ICTSI Champion Tour unwraps

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    The ICTSI Champion Tour at Malarayat reels off today with the Thai and local aces bracing for another spirited battle for top honors in the $75,000 event at Mt. Lobo and Mt. Malipunyo nines of the Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club in Lipa, Batangas.

    Saranporn Langkulgasettrin, who bested a tough international field to win the inaugural Philippine Ladies Masters at Alabang Country Club last December, and former ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour leg winner Wannasiri Sirisampant banner the crack Thailand side out to complete a sweep of the first two Taiwan LPGA events here.

    (from left) Princess Superal and Wannasiri Sirisampant CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

    Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul held off Pauline del Rosario and compatriot Titiya Plucksataporn in last week’s Champion Tour at Splendido in a victory that actually extended the Thais’ domination of the local circuit after Saruttaya Ngam-usawan ruled the Royal Northwoods leg and Langkulgasettrin reigned in Alabang for the LPGT’s last two legs last year.

    But the locals have vowed to stop their regional rivals’ run in the 54-hole championship presented by Champion and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., including the Symetra Tour-bound campaigners out to atone for their so-so finishes last week.

    Dottie Ardina, who wound up joint 33rd at Splendido, hopes to play to her true potential this week along with Cyna Rodriguez, Mia Piccio and Princess Superal, who are all using the TLPGA events as part of their buildup for their US campaign later this month.

    Rodriguez and Piccio actually vied for crown at Splendido but faded in the final round while Ardina and Superal, last year’s Philippine Ladies Open champion, never got into the groove with poor starts and mediocre finishes.

    But that could change this week with the Filipina bets ready to get going for strong starts against an equally talented set of rivals, including those from South Korea, Japan and the big contingent from Taiwan.

    In fact, Ye-nah, who topped the TLPGA and LPGT leg at Southlinks in 2015, is in the fold, upbeat of her chances for the top $15,000 purse like the rest of the field that also includes Korean amateur Hwang Min-jeong, who upended Rodriguez and Superal to win here at Mt. Malarayat, also in 2015.

    Ardina is paired with Singaporean Koh Sock-Hwee and Thai Nemittra Juntanaket at 8:40 a.m. on No. 1; Rodriguez drew Hwang Ye-nah of Korea and Thai Nattagate Nimitpongkul at 8:35 a.m. on No. 10; Piccio will play alongside Taiwan’s Hsin Lee and Narisara Kerdrit of Thailand; and Superal clashes with Thai Pattaraporn Mounchoo and Japanese Mika Nagaishi at 7:50 a.m. on No. 1.

    Langkulgasettrin launches her bid at 7:25 a.m. on No. 10 in the company of amateur and former LPGT leg champion Yuka Saso and Ai Asano of Japan, while Sirisampant drew Taiwanese Chang Ya-chi and Apple Fudolin at 8:30 a.m. on No. 1.

    Meanwhile, del Rosario is also eyeing to complete what she had failed to do last week with the former amateur hotshot seeking to nail a victory in her second pro outing in this tournament backed by ICTSI, BDO, Champion, Custom Clubmakers, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Titleist and Event Captain. She tees off at 7:35 a.m. on No. 10 with former LPGT leg winner Amolkan Phalajivin of Thailand and Chu Yuan-jung of Taiwan.

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