Seventeen-year-old sensation Saranporn Langkulgasettrin got off to a flying start in the PTT Thailand LPGA Masters, with an opening 68 at the par-72 6,536-yard Panya Ram Indra Sports Club yesterday.
Fresh after winning her fifth title of the year in a Taiwan LPGA event last week, the red-hot teenager rode her formidable form on the back nine where she started by shooting five birdies (four successive from holes 13-16) to end the first day leading by a stroke despite inconsistent play in the front nine (three birdies against two bogeys).
“I really enjoyed playing the first round according to my game plan. But there were still some errors that I have to fix going into the second round,” said the Phuket-based player, who won three titles in China and Taiwan and two on the local All Thai Tour this season.
“Winning five events was beyond my expectations. I was just hoping to finish in the top 10 or top five in all the tournaments I entered in. What I have achieved so far is so cool,” added Saranporn, adding she hoped to add one more win this week which will end her long victory drought in the Thai LPGA since the Chiang Mai Open in August 2016.
“Deep inside, I feel like I could win but I’m not going to put myself under pressure. I will try to keep the ball in play and not make stupid mistakes,” added the 2016 Thai LPGA No 1 player.
Taiwanese Chen Yu Ju and Malaysian Ainil Bakar fell a stroke behind to be tied second in the event, which is co-sanctioned by the Thai, China and Australia LPGAs.
“I think my game today was all right. I got four birdies on the front nine and one more birdie on the back nine. Unfortunately, there were two bogies. Maybe it’s because the weather was hot and windy. I hope to get more birdies in the next round,” said Chen, currently at No 10 on the Taiwan LPGA Order of Merit.
Patcharajutar Kongkraphan, one of the LPGA members in action here this week, carded a 70 in her comeback after three months on the sidelines with a right wrist injury.
“It was quite tough initially, as I was unable to get my momentum on the front nine. But after that things began to get better. I feel physically okay but game wise I still need more time,” said the 25-year-old from Khon Kaen.
“During the break, I was thinking of things I wanted to do if I couldn’t play golf again. But then I realised golf is my life and I won’t stop until I win my first LPGA title, which has always been my dream,” said Patcharajutar, who finished sixth last year.
In less than 36 hours after returning home from a long US flight, defending champion Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras started her title defence campaign with a round of 72.
Chen Yu Ju