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Ikeda lurks behind Thai, South Korean

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Saranporn Langkulgasettrin flashed near-impeccable putting touch to card a 69 while Korean Lee Jeong-Hwa charged back with a 68 to force a tie, but local ace Chihiro Ikeda rallied with late birdies to threaten with a second 70 in the second round of the $80,000 ICTSI Philippine Ladies Masters at the Alabang Country Club yesterday.

Overnight leader Kanphanitnan Muangkhumaskul slowed down with a 73 after a 69 and dropped to fourth but Langkulgasettrin made sure to keep Thailand in the lead hunt for the top $17,000 purse with superb putting that netted her a 35-34 card, spiked by a couple of saved pars in the early going and three birdies in the last seven holes.

“It was a great round, my putting was incredible,” said Langkulgasettrin, who used her putter just 26 times on the unpredictable Alabang surface to pool a 139. “It was hot all day but I had a good feeling before the round started.”

But Lee pressed her bid for a sweep of the three Ladies Philippine Golf Tour/Taiwan LPGA Tour legs as the Korean ace hit back-to-back birdies from No. 15 to turn in the day’s best score in scorching heat and tie Langkulgasettrin at five-under overall.

Lee, who dominated the Splendido and Southwoods legs last March, also credited her solid putting as she birdied two of the first eight holes, bogeyed No. 9 but birdied No. 11 before closing out with late birdies to stay in contention for another crack at the championship sponsored by ICTSI and co-organized by LPGT and TLPGA.

“Putting is great today,” said Lee, who vowed to close out with a five-under card to nail another win. “My goal is to win the tournament and I want to shoot a five-under tomorrow (today).”

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