Onkanok Soisuwan of Thailand rebounded from a shaky start with a cluster of birdies at the back, shooting a three-under 69 and storming to a six-stroke lead over Cyna Rodriguez and two other Thais in the second round of the ICTSI Mount Malarayat Ladies Classic at Mt. Malarayat composite course in Lipa City, Batangas on Wednesday.
Soiwusan actually stepped on the 18th mound with a whopping eight-stroke lead after a five-birdie string at Mt. Malipunyo but holed out with a double-bogey, settling for a 36-33 card and giving her rivals some chance for a fightback with 18 holes to play in the P1.25 million tournament.
But with a five-under 139 aggregate, Soisuwan still stood too far ahead of Rodriguez, Polnamin Pannapa and Yoopan Tiranan, who all pooled 145s while erstwhile co-leader Sofia Chabon failed to sustain her opening 70 with an error-filled 76 that dropped her to joint fifth at 146 with Thai Ponthanark Chommapat and amateurs Mikha Fortuna and Sam Bruce.
Chabon bounced back from four bogeys with an eagle-birdie feat linking both nines but The Country Club bet stumbled with another bogey on No. 15 and dropped two strokes on the 18th to finish with a pair of 38s.
Chommapat, who also shot a 70 in the opening round of the 54-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI, also groped for form in another scorching day, carding a 76 marred by six bogeys.
Fortuna, meanwhile, fought back from a disastrous 77 start with a 69 spiked by four birdies at Malipunyo, while Bruce birdied two of the last seven holes to save a second 73 in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Rodriguez, out to redeem herself from a playoff loss to Thai Supakchaya Pattanakrueang at Luisita last month, shot two birdies but made four bogeys for a 74 although the former three-time LPGT Order of Merit winner clinched a spot in the championship flight with Soisuwan and Polnamin, who birdied the first two holes and gunned down four more against three bogeys to turn in the day’s third 69.
Yoopan, due for a big win after a string of top five finishes in the circuit backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZGm PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf, never recovered from a two-bogey mishap at Mt. Lobo and finished with that 74.
But Soisuwan recovered big from back-to-back bogeys from No. 1, birdying Nos. 4 and 9 to go level par then scorched the Mt. Malipunyo layout with birdies on Nos. 10, 13, 14, 16 and 17 to pull away from the compact field and move in the threshold of a breakthrough victory after powering Team Southeast Asia past Team Philippines in the Pradera Verde duel the past two years.