Taiwanese amateur triumphs in playoff

Amateur Yu Chiang Hou of Taiwan came out a clear winner in the ICTSI Pradera Ladies Classic that needed two extra holes to finish, beating Thai Wanchana Poruangrong with a tap-in birdie in a fitting ending to an event that faced uncertainties due to erratic weather at the Pradera Golf and Country Club in Lubao, Pampanga yesterday.

Taiwanese amateur triumphs in playoff
Taiwanese amateur Yu Chiang Hou lifts her two trophies, including the pro diadem after edging Thai Wanchana Poruangrong on the second playoff hole
Hou outhit Poruangrong on their second shot on their third trip on the par-5 ninth in another day of changing fortunes then hacking out a solid wedge shot from 60 yards to within inches off the cup, the ball nearly hitting the target after Poruangrong approached to within eight feet.

With the pressure and all, Poruangrong flubbed her birdie try and failed to extend the match as the 18-year-old Hou tapped it in for the victory that capped her three days of gutsy play against some of the leading players on the LPGA of Taiwan (TLPGA) and the country’s top shotmakers.

“I feel excited but there was no pressure,” said Hou before she was hauled to the awards rites to receive the champion’s trophy in the $80,000 event put up by ICTSI and which served as the ninth stop of the 2019 TLPGA Tour. She actually took home two trophies, including the amateur.

But it was Poruangrong who banked the top purse of $14,000 although she fell short of joining the growing list of Thai winners on the LPGT, including Thanutra Boonraksasat and Arpichaya Yubol, who won the Manila Southwoods and Manila Golf Classic legs last March and April, respectively.

She also failed to keep the crown for Thailand after veteran Yupaporn Kawinpakorn won here last December.

Still unsure actually was the winner after the 54-hole regulation in windy, wet and hot conditions as Hou hit a clutch birdie on No. 15 in regulation to spike a closing 69, catching Poruangrong at five-under 211 after the Thai ended up with a 70.

Both parred the first playoff hole with Poruangrong muffing a pin-length birdie putt on the undulating surface of the all-weather layout that withstood the nature’s wrath in the first two days and brought out the best from the surviving field in the final round.

The victory was actually the second pro win for the incoming Univ. of Arizona student, one of those whom Yuka Saso beat for the gold medal in last year’s Asian Games in Jakarta. She bested the TLPGA top campaigners to win the TLPGA Open in Nan Pao last May.

Hou started playing golf at age eight and has been making remarkable progress in the last three years, winning the Victorian Juniors in Australia in 2016 and emerging on top of Taiwan’s nationwide high school championships in 2016-17.

Daniella Uy, just two strokes off two-day leader Mayuna Furukawa and one behind Poruangrong at the start of the final round, sparked hopes of a breakthrough for the former Junior World titlist as she caught up with Poruangrong at four-under overall with a 34 start. But as the pressure mounted at the back, the lone Filipina contender stumbled on Pradera’s tough surface, three-putting Nos. 11 and 15 and failing to go up-and-down on No. 14 to bow out of contention.

She did birdie two of the last three to save a 71 for joint third with Furukawa at 213 worth $7,200 each in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Empire Golf and Sports and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.

After hanging tough on top in windy, wet conditions in the first 36 holes, Furukawa faded with a double-bogey on the par-5 No. 3, which she eagled and birdied in the first two rounds, and dropped shots on Nos. 4 and 7 fell behind with 40. Though she birdied Nos. 10 and 12 to bounce back with a two-under overall card, the Nagoya native ran out of holes in her comeback bid and wound up with a 73.

Thai Arpichaya Yubol also fumbled with a 73 to place fifth at 216 while Thai Mookharin Ladgratok matched par 72 for solo sixth at 217 while Princess Superal birdied the 17th to save a 72 and tie for seventh at 218 with Thais Saraporn Chamchoi (76), Jackie Chulya (75) and Dolnapa Phudthipinij (72), Taiwanese Chang Hsuan-Ping (74) and former two-time leg winner Hwang Ye-Nah (71).

Topics: Yu Chiang Hou , ICTSI Pradera Ladies Classic , Wanchana Poruangrong , Yupaporn Kawinpakorn
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