Thai teen Saranporn leads in Zhuhai
Saranporn Langkulgasettrin put herself in position to capture her second win of the China LPGA Tour season on Thursday when the Thai teenager fired a 4-under-par 68 to take a one-stroke lead through two rounds of the CLPGA Zhuhai Heritage.
The Phuket native, winner of last month’s Wuhan Challenge, was 9-under 135 at the 200,000-yuan (US$259,790) tournament in south China's Guangdong Province where play was suspended for an hour at 10.30am for lightning. Rookie pro Peng Chieh of Chinese Taipei was second following a 68, while Chinese amateur He Muni (67) posted the low round of the day to sit two shots back in third at the Zhuhai Golden Gulf Golf Club.
Thailand’s Wannasiri Sirisampant (68) was fourth, three shots off the pace, one shot ahead of compatriot Ploychompoo Wirairungrueng, the overnight co-leader, who could only post an even-par round of 72.
The 17-year-old Saranporn, a winner of 10 pro titles, started her round from the Zhuhai Golden Gulf back nine and quickly got to work registering three straight birdies from the 13th hole to get to 8-under. On her back nine, the front nine, she carded an eagle three at the 471-yard seventh hole when her approach with a five-iron found the green and she made the 13-foot putt. Her lone bogey came at the par-3, 142-yard eighth hole when she miscalculated the distance and went over the green with a five-iron.
“I’m not looking at the win now, just focus on my game tomorrow. I am not going to put pressure on myself,” she said. “The field is not really strong this week, but still they have good players. The course is not hard to get birdies and I think everyone can hit birdies if they make the shot. So I am not going to think of the trophy now, I am just going to do my best on the shots.”
Peng, a recent graduate of Mississippi State University, was playing in only her third event as a pro. With her older brother as her caddie, she posted a round of five birdies against a lone bogey.
“I erred on my yardage at the (365-yard) second hole and hit with an eight-iron only to hit over the green. After that hole, I always double checked my numbers and confirmed it with my brother. My older brother didn’t play golf but his major is finance. So he is always good at numbers. Obviously I played well since then,” Peng said.
The 23-year-old Zhongli City native missed the cut in her pro debut at last month’s Wuhan Challenge and said she had learnt from the experience. She added she was excited to play in the last group tomorrow as it had been a while since she was in such a position.
“To be honest, I have nothing in my mind. Hopefully, when on the first tee in the final round, I will have worked out a good plan with my brother.”
He, an 18-year vying for a place on the Guangdong team for the upcoming National Games, carded a round that included four birdies, an eagle three at the par-5 seventh hole and a bogey.
“Overall it’s a good round. It’s really hot out there. The score is awesome. But you know I lost my energy over the last few holes. I didn’t actually know the reason. It might be the hot weather. I am not complaining. I took this score happily,” said the University of Southern California player.
“Tomorrow, I think about one shot at one time and try to put away those thoughts about a win or a high finish. I didn’t put myself in such a good position in a pro event. Nerves will be there. I need to manage my attitude and focus on the ball in front of me.”