KUALA LUMPUR: Thailand’s Kanphanitan Muangkhumsakul put herself in pole position for a return to the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia after taking the first round lead at the Qualifying Tournament on Tuesday.
The 17-year-old professional from Khon Kaen took little time to pick up where she left off 12 months ago, carding an opening two-under 69 at the East Course of Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
Kanphanitan, who goes by the nickname Mind, dropped one shot on the front nine before sinking four birdies against another single bogey after the turn to enjoy a one-shot lead over national amateur Nur Durriyah Damian and India’s shining star Aditi Ashok.
Tournament veteran Cindy Lee-Pridgen, who last qualified for the event in 2013, was a further shot back on 71 while Symetra Tour professional Jean Chua returned with a one-over 72.
The winner of the qualifying tournament, along with the top two ranked Malaysian players will receive automatic entries into the US$2 million showpiece LPGA event next month.
Durriyah, fresh from representing Malaysia at the South East Asian Amateur Golf Team Championships, was disappointed not to be in the lead herself.
“My round was quite good but somehow managed to fumble the last few holes with a couple of bogeys. I won’t be changing anything for tomorrow – I’ll try to maintain my performance and hope I can qualify for my maiden Sime Darby LPGA Malaysa,” said the 20-year-old.
Mother-of-two Lee-Pridgen, who arrived from her Abu Dhabi base over the weekend, was mighty pleased with her effort. “It was a good day. Caddy and I worked well together and we had a lot fun out there. It was good to get more familiar with the greens again and tomorrow will be much the same but hopefully, I can convert a couple more putts,” she noted.
Leading first round scores >
Malaysian unless stated
69 – Kanphanitan Muangkhumsakul (THA)
70 – Aditi Ashok (a – IND), Nur Durriyah Damian (a)
71 – Cindy Lee-Pridgen
72 – Jean Chua
73 – Dianne Luke Jia Zhen
74 – Amanda Tan (a – SIN), Michele Low Pui Mun
75 – Aretha Pan Herng
76 – Goh Jen (a – SIN), Kim Hae Min (KOR), Warda Amira Rawof (a), Lee Jin Kyung (a – KOR)
77 – Mikhaela Fortuna (a – PHI), Natasha Andrea Oon (a), Princess Mary Superal (a – PHI)
78 – Han Byeol (KOR)
79 – Kelie Kan Kah Yan (a)
80 – Winnie Ng Yu Xuan (a), Hillferah Tan (a), Qistina Balqis Azhar (a)
82 – Sofia Chabon (a – PHI)
89 – Shareen Rena Lai