Princess challenge for Kelly

Princess Mary Superal ©MA:LGA
Princess Mary Superal ©MA:LGA

Kuala Lumpur: Princess Mary Superal of the Philippines will hope to continue her run of victories on Malaysian soil as she trails leader Kelly Tan of Malaysia by a single stroke after the second round of the 30th Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open on Wednesday.

The 16-year-old, who is the reigning Malaysian and Philippines junior champion, put herself in position to claim her biggest amateur win yet with a solid three-under 68 at the East Course of Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.

Leading by two shots overnight, national top amateur Kelly had to dig deep before settling for a round of one-under 70 to stay ahead of the field with a two-day aggregate of five-under 137. Completing the top three was another Filipina contender, Cyna Rodriquez, who registered a one-over 72 to lie four strokes off the lead.

A round of 69 saw India’s Gurbani Singh take a share of fourth on 143 alongside Pauline Del Rosario (73) of the Phillipines, one shot ahead of Australian Ashley Ona (71) and Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras of Thailand (72).

After a relatively quiet start, Princess came alive on the back nine as she birdied three of the closing four holes to haul herself into contention for the second year running. “I had a good putting rhythm going on but I was a little bit more aggressive with my approach shots towards the end and got some good birdie chances which I converted.

“Overall, I am really pleased with my effort today because it leaves me just one off the lead, where else last year, I was three behind Kelly going into the final round,” said the petite Filipina, who finished fourth last year.

“I won three titles in Malaysia in 2012 [Ambank RSGC Junior Amateur Open, Malaysian Junior Open and Melaka Amateur Open], so I do fancy my chances whenever I come to Malaysia. I know I have to take my chances out there tomorrow and be mentally prepared to slug it out with Kelly,” added Princess, who hopes to become the first Filipina to win the championship since Dottie Ardina in 2007.

On the other hand, Kelly was counting on the positives after a challenging day on the course and was banking on her experience to claim her second title since 2011. “It was not easy out there today, I drove the ball pretty well today, which was good improvement from yesterday, but even though I drained my share of putts, I know I could have done much better,” said Kelly, who two-putted on the sixth and 14th to drop bogeys.

“My game plan tomorrow is just to play against myself and win. If the conditions are a little windy like today, then I have to make it a point to hit closer to the pins and make the putts counts. But I’m positive going forward as last year’s disappointment was a good lesson on managing my expectations and staying pressure-free,” she added.

Leading second round scores (Division 1)
137 – Kelly Tan (MAS) 67-70
138 – Princess Mary Superal (PHI) 70-68
141 – Cyna Rodriguez (PHI) 69-72
143 – Gurbani Singh (IND) 74-69; Pauline Del Rosario (PHI) 70-73
144 – Ashley Ona (AUS) 73-71; Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras (THA) 72-72;
145 – Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong (THA) 75-70; Gavrilla Arya (INA) 74-71; Parinda Phokan (THA) 72-73; Michelle Koh 71-74