Kawinpakorn in command

In Photo: Yupaporn Kawinpakorn goes for another strong finish.

Yupaporn Kawinpakorn pounced on fellow Thais Saraporn Chamchoi and Onkanok Soisuwan’s early struggle and Marvi Monsalve’s par-game to wrest control with a bogey-free two-under 70 for a two-stroke lead after two rounds of The Women’s Championship at the Summit Point Golf and Country Club in Lipa City on Thursday.

While the majority fumbled in the windy day at the Robert Trent Jones II-designed layout which features holes inspired by some of the world’s best-known courses, Kawinpakorn kept her poise and gunned down two birdies for a 35-35 card that shoved her past erstwhile leader Chamchoi to the top of the heap at five-under 139.

Chamchoi, who impressed the 40-player field with a 68 Wednesday, hardly recovered from a poor 41 start, finishing with a 39 for an 80 and tumbling to joint 10th with four others at 148, now nine shots off the pace.

But Monsalve stayed in the hunt for a maiden crown with a gutsy 72, joining local amateur LK Go and a charging Chonlada Chayanun, also of Thailand, at 141, while Soisuwan, winner of the last Ladies Philippine Golf Tour (LPGT) leg at Mount Malarayat, hobbled with a 38 start and finished with a 73 to slip to fifth at 142 heading to the final 18 holes of the P1.5-million championship sponsored by the International Container Terminal Services Inc.

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“I had a good feel of the course today [yesterday],” said Kawinpakorn, winner of the LPGT Beverly Place leg last January and fresh from her China Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour leg win in Guangdong last week. “The wind was about the same when I was in China last week and it made me think a little of club selection and watch the wind direction. But everything was fine.”

The veteran campaigner, however, did away with the usual post-round visit at the range and putting green, and instead headed straight to her hotel room for the much needed rest following a string of six tournaments in the region.

“I’m a bit exhausted and I need to take some time off,” she said.

Just two behind, Go hopes to cash in on the rare crack at a pro victory with the 19-year-old Cebuana ace playing out of University of South Carolina hoping to sneak into the spotlight in the end with a strong finish tomorrow (today).

“The key is to play the course smart, attack the pins whenever I can,” said Go, who will be paired with Soisuwan and Cyna Rodriguez in second-to-last flight.

Monsalve took the honor of challenging Kawinpakorn and Chayanun in the championship group with the Filipina bet stressing the need to make of her birdie opportunities.

“I still have the opportunity to win it, but I need to make a lot of birdies,” said Monsalve, who flubbed a number of birdie chances until she banged in an eight-footer on the 18th that negated her lone mishap on No. 16.

Chihiro Ikeda, winner at Eagle Ridge in February, also groped for a 73 and dropped to joint sixth at 143 with Rodriguez, who matched par 72, and Thai Aunchisa Utama, who fought back with a 70.

Korean Choeun Bang also carded an even par 72 for a 146 while reigning LPGT Order of Merit winner Pauline del Rosario also floundered and limped with a birdie-less 76 to join Chamchoi at 148 with Thais Piyathida Chaiyapan, who shot a second 74, Trichat Cheenglab, who rebounded with a 73, and Cristawan Rungruang, who wavered with a 75.

Three other Thais—Tiranan Yoopan (75), Pimpadsorn Sangkagaro (72) and Pannapa Polnamin (76)—pooled identical 149s to make the 15-plus ties cut in the ninth leg of the LPGT organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.

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Turning Points 2018