Photograph of Parinda Phokan courtesy of Thai LPGA
The 2018-2019 ALPG Tour got underway today at Panya Indra Golf Club in Bangkok for PTT Thailand Masters, and it was local stars Parinda Phokan and Wanchana Poruangrong who stole the show shooting superb six under par rounds of 66, taking a two shot lead over fellow Thai Waralee Atcharerk into tomorrow’s second round.
Phokan, runner-up at this event in 2017 made the perfect start to her round in the steamy afternoon conditions with a birdie at the par 5 1st hole. Further birdies at the 4th, 6th, 8th and 9th holes saw Phokan take the early lead at 4 under par.
The 21-year-old from Khon Kaen province, who splits her time between the LPGA Tours of China and Taiwan made another birdie at the 12th hole and proceeded to par in for a flawless 6 under par round of 66.
Phokan’s compatriot, Wanchana Poruangrong, who also splits her time between the China and Taiwan LPGA while supporting the Thai LPGA events, was also flawless this afternoon making the turn in 33 and coming back in the same number of strokes. The 24-year-old is already a winner on the Thai LPGA Tour in 2018 winning in a playoff at the 2nd Singha-Sat event and will be hoping she can lift a second trophy in 2018 on Friday.
Sitting alone in third place is talented 18-year-old rookie Waralee Atcharerk, who also went bogey-free this afternoon with four birdies and fourteen pars on her scorecard.
A further shot back at 3 under par is a group of four players, Thai stars Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras and Utama Aunchisa, Taiwanese players Ching Huang and Peng Chieh and South Korean Hee Jin Park,
Park started her round teeing off from the 10th hole this morning and made the turn at 2 under par after birdies at the 14th and 16th holes. The 23-year-old fell back to one under for the day after a bogey at the difficult par four 2nd hole before recovering with birdies at the 4th and 5th holes to finish the day at -3.
Huang started from the 1st hole and was quickly into her stride making birdies at the 4th, 5th, 7th and 9th holes to make the turn in 4-under-par 32. The back nine was much more uneventful for the Taiwanese player, she made all pars apart from a bogey at the par 4 13th hole to finish the day also at -3.
Thai star Thanapolboonyaras returned to Thailand to play this week after competing last week at the Evian Championship where she finished in a tie for 26th place. The 20-year-old is in her third season on the LPGA Tour and started as one of the tournament favourites this week. It was a typically solid round today from Thanapolboonyaras making 4 birdies and just a single bogey.
Of the ALPG members, it was New Zealander Munchin Keh who fared the best shooting a 2 under par 70 this afternoon.
Her compatriot Chantelle Cassidy also made a strong start to her 2018/19 campaign shooting a one-under-par 71. The 25-year-old from Cambridge in New Zealand said that she was a little anxious prior to her round this morning.
“I was really nervous when I started as this was the first tournament I have played since the Brisbane Invitational in March. I was able to relax once I got going and played really solidly once I settled down.”
Cassidy made four birdies and three bogeys and said she felt a little disappointed that she had not taken advantage of her many birdie opportunities.
“ I made four birdies today but to be honest it could have been a lot more, I drove the ball really well today.”
The Kiwi also said that she had struggled with the baking hot conditions with temperatures in excess of 33 degrees today, which when combined with the Bangkok humidity felt more like 39 degrees.
“I really felt the heat today, it was tough coming out of the NZ winter into these conditions which were some of the hottest I have played in. “
New South Welshwoman Tahnia Ravnjak came into this week’s event coming off a 6th place finish last week on the LPGA China LPGA Tour at the Tieling Longshan Golf Challenge, and finished the day in a tie for 23rd place after shooting an even-par 72.
The 25-year- old from Wollongong, south of Sydney, was happy to finish at even par after struggling early in her round.
“I started really slowly and missed too many greens but my short game kept me in it. My irons were not good at all and I was happy to be able to make six really good par saves to be hanging in there at two over for the day with five holes left”
Ravnjak quickly found her form with her short irons making three birdies in four holes from the 14th to the 17th to get her into red figures, however a disappointing bogey on the 18th hole meant after a rollercoaster day she would have to settle for an even-par round.
“On the 18th hole I hit a really good drive and only had 117m to the pin. I hit a wedge and didn’t quite catch it and it caught the bank and came all the way back to the front of the green. I had a really long and difficult first putt and then left myself with a difficult par putt with a lot of break which just rolled across the front of the hole before missing."
After tomorrow's second round there will be a cut to the leading 50 professional players plus ties.
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