Kelly braces for tough Princess challenge

Princess Superal © MALGA

Kuala Lumpur: Princess Superal of the Philippines matched the tournament best of four-under 67 at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club on Wednesday as Kelly Tan continued her march towards a successful title defence at the 29th Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open.

The petite Princess traded five birdies against a single bogey for a two-day aggregate of four-under-par 138, trailing overnight leader Kelly, who also shot a 67, by three strokes. Former Malaysian Amateur Open winner Aretha Pan was third, battling back with a round of two-under 69 for a 140 total.

Overnight joint leaders Dottie Ardina, Whitney Hillier and local Iman Ahmad Nordin all fired 75 to drop with a total of 143, while the other joint overnight leader, India’s Mehar Kaur Atwal fired a 77 today for a total of 145.

The 15-year-old Filipina, who claimed the Royal Selangor Junior Amateur Open earlier in the year, admitted that the two-and-a-half hour suspension due to inclement weather aided her in regaining her feel around the course.

“I started a little slow and dropped a bogey on the second but the delay was a welcome break. It allowed me to re-focus and I came back out feeling much relaxed and was able to get a run of birdies on the third and fourth holes,” shared Princess.
Princess, who is making her debut at the nation’s top ladies amateur championship, gave herself an outside chance of claiming the title.

“I think my short game was crucial out there today and if I can notch a few more birdies out there tomorrow, I might have a chance but it’s too early to think about winning the tournament,” she added.

But there was no stopping pre-tournament favourite Kelly, who once again proved her supremacy on the East Course layout with a flawless round of four birdies. “I didn’t have an easy time out there today – it was a real game of two nines. My first birdie of the day only came on the 11th,” noted Kelly, who admitted that she was trying too hard to get into a rhythm earlier on.

“I guess the rain disruption didn’t help too much either. I had just teed-off when we were called back in and to idle around for almost two and a half hour, it was a bit difficult. I missed a handful of birdies from inside ten feet on the front nine, so I told myself to be a little more patient on the inward nine and I was able to strengthen my lead.”

The top-ranked Malaysian amateur acknowledged that the tournament was far from over.  “I still need to get the job done tomorrow. A three-stroke advantage can go to smokes very easily but I’m confident of maintaining my rhythm and shooting another round in the 60s,” exclaimed the 18-year-old Johor lass.

Leading second round scores (Division 1)
135 – Kelly Tan (MAS) 68-67
138 – Princess Superal (PHI) 71-67
140 – Aretha Pan (MAS) 71-69
141 – Savitree Thavong (THA) 71-70
143 – Vani Sanjeev Kapoo (IND) 73-70, Dottie Ardina (PHI) 68-75, Whitney Hillier (AUS) 68-75, Iman Ahmad Nordin (MAS) 68-75
144 – Suthavee Chanachai (THA) 73-71
145 – Chang Yu Hsin (TPE) 71-74, Jayvie Agojo (PHI) 70-75, Mehar Kaur Atwal (IND) 68-77