Aretha, Ainil in the hunt for Sime Darby LPGA starts

Aretha Pan / ©IMG

Kuala Lumpur: Aretha Pan and Ainil Johani brighten their chances for a date with the stars of the LPGA after taking a share of the first round lead in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia national qualifier today. Aretha and Johani shot round of 79 at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club’s East Course to lead the local challenge whilst Porani Chutichai and Patcharajutar Kongkraphan of Thailand shot 73 and 74 respectively to set the mark in the regional qualifier.

Ainil Johani / © IMG

The top two regional and Malaysian players in the two-day qualifying event will earn starts at the second edition of the US$1.9 million event which will be held from October 13-16 at the same venue.

Aretha was disappointed with her failure to connect with her putter but was nonetheless pleased to be in the running for her second straight appearance in the tournament. “I hit the ball well today, but did not make too many succesfull putts so I will continue to focus on my game tomorrow. I did not do as well as I wanted to in the event proper last year, so hopefully this year I will qualify again to show what I am capable of. I am much better prepared and want to perform to the best of my ability in the tournament,” said Aretha.

The only Malaysian professional in the field, Ainil was confident of her chances with one round to play.  “I am pleased to be leading after day one of the Qualifier. My irons and approach shots were strong, but there’s still room for improvement tomorrow. I still need to get my putting speed right and . My strategy remains the same, fairways and greens, those are my goals.”

Porani, who has been making great waves in the China LPGA was confident of making amends for her near-miss in 2010. “The course is very tough and I had some problems with the first few holes so I will work on my iron shots before tomorrow’s round, but I am really pleased to be leading today. In 2010, I failed to make it pass the qualifying tournament by a couple of strokes, so I want to make sure I make up for it this year”.

Leading first round scores (Malaysians in italic)
73 Porani Chutichai (THA)
74 Tanaporn Kongkiatkrai (THA), Patcharajutar Kongkraphan (THA)
75 Tiranan Yoopan (THA)
75 Kim Hei Ji (KOR)
77 Rungthiwa Pangjan (THA)
78 Thidapa Suwanapura (THA)
79 Valerie Tan (BRU)
79 Ainil Johani Abu Bakar, 79 Jaruporn Palakawong (THA), Aretha Pan
80 Su Ann Heng (SIN)
82 Loy Hee Ying
83 Kalpana Devi Suppiah, Nur Musrifah Ilham Armalis
84 Janice Ling Hui Shin
85 Diana Tham
85 Yong Mei Khuan
89 Shareen Rena Lai
91 Genevieve I-Rynn Ling