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Ikeda in the hunt for lead


Kanphanitnan Muangkhumaskul closed out both nines of Alabang Country Club with a burst of birdies – and an eagle on No. 7 – as she stormed past a steady Chihiro Ikeda and a faltering Lee Jeong Hwa of Korea to wrest control with a 69 at the start of the rich ICTSI Philippine Ladies Masters in Muntinlupa yesterday.

Lee looked poised to launch her bid for a third LPGT/TLPGA crown in strong fashion when she went three-under with six holes to play at the front. But the Korean fumbled with bogeys on Nos. 4 and 6 and scrambled for pars in the last three to drop to joint fourth at 71.

That enabled Ikeda to take the challenger’s role as the Orchard leg winner carded a bogey-free 70 to tie Taiwanese Kuo Ai-Chen while Hsieh Yu-Ling, also of Taiwan, turned in a two-birdie, one-bogey effort to join Lee and Thais Chorphaka Jaengkit and Chatprapa Siriprakob at 71 in the $80,000 championship sponsored by ICTSI and co-organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments and TLPGA.

Symetra Tour campaigner Mia Piccio bogeyed No. 8 and settled for a 72 in a tie with former LPGT Southlinks leg champion Hwang Ye-Nah of Korea while LPGA Tour-bound Dottie Ardina birdied the 18th to save a 73 in what she termed as a decent start in challenging condition, particularly the hard, unreceptive greens.

Cyna Rodriguez, the former three-time Order of Merit winner and LPGA campaigner, recovered with two birdies at the finish but still fell six strokes behind with a 75 while Fil-Am Demi Runas limped with a 76 marred by a triple bogey on No. 15.