Thai Yupaporn Kawinpakorn held off Chihiro Ikeda’s late assault and withstood Dottie Ardina’s solid game as she grabbed a one-stroke lead with a three-under 68 and moved closer to nailing another victory on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.
Kawinpakorn matched Ikeda’s closing birdie that capped her backside attack where she stepped up after a par-game at the front to thwart the local aces’ charge in the second round of the ICTSI Beverly Place Ladies Classic at the par-71 Beverly Place Golf Club in Mexico, Pampanga on Wednesday.
Her second three-under card shoved her to the top at 136 as the veteran Thai campaigner moved 18 holes away from scoring a follow-up to her two-stroke triumph at South Forbes in the 2017 season ending LPGT event last month.
“I played so relaxed today (yesterday) and my irons and wedges contributed to my good score,” said Kawinpakorn, adding she’ll need to play smarter and make the most of her birdie opportunities in today’s final round.
Her last-hole birdie also dropped erstwhile joint leader Ikeda to second at 137 after a 69 which the Fil-Japanese built on three birdies in the last six holes to remain in the title hunt in the P750,000 event sponsored by ICTSI.
Despite her fall, Ikeda remained confident of her title chances but hoped her irons would tick and her putting would continue to click.
“I struggled with my irons at the front but the good thing was my putting clicked,” said Ikeda, seeking to score another victory after ruling the Forest Hills leg last November. “I’ll just play my game tomorrow (today) and try not to put pressure on myself.”
But looming large at third is Ardina, who finally hit her stride and fired a bogey-free, tournament-best 67 to grab third at 138, guaranteeing a shootout for the top P150,000 purse in the 54-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“I had a good game, no bogeys. But I’m still adjusting to the speed of the greens. You need to have a good read and a firm putt to score here,” said Ardina, who birdied Nos. 3, 9, 15 and 18 to clinch a spot in the championship flight.
The rest, however, stood too far behind Kawinpakorn with Cyna Rodriguez and Princess Superal carding identical 72s for 142 and 143, respectively, with Thais Aunchisa Utama firing a 70 and Tiranan Yoopan also turning in a 72 to joint Superal at fifth.
Pimpadsorn Sangkagaro, Ananya Vitayakonkomol and Alisa Wedchakama, also of Thailand, shot similar 72s for 145, 146 and 147, respectively, in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.