Final battle looms for Michelle

Michelle Koh copy;eddieputera|TCH
Michelle Koh copy;eddieputera|TCH

Kuala Lumpur: Michelle Koh stayed on course for the best amateur prize despite a three-over 74 effort during the third round of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia on Saturday.

The 23-year-old national player dug dig to recover  from a disastrous opening nine to take a share for 62nd alongside Chinese junior Shi Yuting and Paraguayan Julieta Granada on seven-over 220.

It also left Koh as the best-placed Malaysian in the field ahead of Cindy Lee-Pridgen (74), who is five strokes behind while Aretha Pan Herng (83) and Ainil Johani Abu Bakar (77) were placed 68th and 70th respectively.

Pan had a round to forget with a scorecard including five double bogeys while Ainil returned with three birdies against eight bogeys, including a double, on the day.

Koh drew the positives on a round of two distinct nines and was pleased with her attitude on a tough-scoring East Course.

“I did not have a great start with the two opening bogeys and that had a snowball effect as one mistake crept to another.  But I managed to regroup myself at the turn – just told myself to keep my head high and go out and play to my ability – and it worked. I managed to pick up some good putts, which boosted my confidence, and managed two birdies, which was great,” shared Koh.

“I really hope that I can be a little more calmer at the start and just try to play like I did on the inward nine today. I have to give myself a lot more opportunities and that means keeping it on the fairway and finding the greens. It would be great, first time out, to top the amateur list but I have to keep that target aside and finish the tournament well,” she noted.

While having enjoyed her run at the prestigious tournament, Koh admitted that it had been a great learning experience for her as she contemplates a move up to the paid ranks next year.

“It’s been a tough assignment – the golf course is set-up in a way to challenge you and the nerves as well as excitement of playing alongside the top players and the whole atmosphere is completely different. I can’t describe how much I’ve gained from playing the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia,” added the Campbell University graduate.

Lee-Pridgen was flirting with an even-par score for much of the round until she dropped a bogey on the seventh and sent her approach on the last into the water.

“I had the most energetic round of the week and my caddie and I managed to get our strategy right today until the last when we misjudged the wind a little. I did not strike it cleanly and from there on, couldn’t keep the damage down. But I’m pretty happy with the way I played and it’s a matter of draining a few more putts tomorrow,” noted the native Sabahan.