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Thais invade LPGT stage

Onkanok Soisuwan

Onkanok Soisuwan

A 21-player strong Thai contingent, led by leg winners Yupaporn Kawinpakorn, Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang and Onkanok Soisuwan, sets out for another crack at the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour crown when The Women’s Championship is fired off beginning Wednesday at the Summit Point Golf Club in Lipa City, Batangas.

Kawinpakorn beat Chihiro Ikeda by three at Beverly Place in Pampanga last January; Pattaranakrueang edged Cyna Rodriguez in sudden death at Luisita last April; and Soisuwan romped off with a seven-stroke victory over amateur Mikha Fortuna and fellow Thai Tiranan Yoopan last month as the Thais, including Pavarisa Yoktuan’s win at Splendido last February, took four of the first eight legs of this year’s circuit sponsored by ICTSI.

Unless the locals and the rest of the compact field step up in the upcoming 54-hole championship, a fifth title looms for the country’s perennial regional rivals in the R1.5 million championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

Saruttaya Ngam-usawan, who also won at Royal Northwoods in 2016, is also in the fold along with Aunchisa Utama, Chommapat Ponthanarak, Chonlada Chayanun, Chonnika Rungruang, Goonlacha Paiboonpong, Intuon Detkhum, Jaruporn P Na Ayuttaya, Kanokwan Yospark, Mookharin Ladgratok, Pannapa Polnamin, Pattraporn Kratururk, Pimpadsorn Chaiyapan, Saraporn Chamchoi, Trichat Cheenglab and Yoopan.

But focus will be on Kawinpakorn, who will be coming into the event brimming with confidence following a victory in the China LPGA Zhuhai Heritage in Guangdong over the weekend with Ladgratok finishing third.

Former three-time Order of Merit winner Cyna Rodriguez banners the local challenge along with recent Eagle Ridge winner Chihiro Ikeda, Gretchen Villacencio, Alex Etter, Lucy Landicho, Marvi Monsalve and former leg winner Sarah Ababa, all vowing to stop the Thais’ bid for another crown.

Others vying for top honors in the event, backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZGm PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf, are Japanese Ayaka Morimitsu and Natsuki Kishikawa, Korean Choeun Bang and Lisa Kang of the US.

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