Rookie Soisuwan cruises to 7-shot Malarayat romp

Thai Onkanok Soisuwan relishes her big victory right in her first pro tourney.

Onkanok Soisuwan nailed her breakthrough win on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour in style, outclassing the local top guns and a slew of fellow Thai aces with a seven-stroke victory in the ICTSI Mount Malarayat Ladies Classic at Mt. Malarayat composite course in Lipa City, Batangas on Thursday.

With a huge overnight six-stroke lead, Soisuwan hardly found a challenge in the final 18 holes of the P1.25 million championship, mixing three birdies against two bogeys in another scorching day to complete a run of under-par cards with a 71 to complete a wire-to-wire triumph in her first pro tournament.

Counting her early 70 and 69, the former top amateur pooled a 210 and beat local amateur Mikha Fortuna and compatriot Tiranan Yoopan by seven. Fortuna matched Soisuwan’s closing 71 to clinch the low amateur trophy while Yoopan settled for another top three finish with a 72 for 217s. Yoopan received P155,000.

“I didn’t expect to win because this is my first tournament as a pro,” said Soisuwan, who anchored Team Southeast Asia’s title romps over the Phl’s best amateurs in the Pradera Ladies Challenge the past two years.

“The first round was really difficult, especially my driver. But I stayed focused and kept my composure. I also had some trouble with my irons today (yesterday) but I still got it,” added Soisuwan, who banked P300,000 for her maiden feat.

Cyna Rodriguez, who trailed Soisuwan after 36 holes, failed to get going with a double-bogey start and a bogey on the par-5 No. 9 although she made two birdies at the back to finish with a 74 for fourth at 218.

Pannapa Polnamin struggled with a 75 while Chommapat Ponthanarak hobbled with a 76 for joint fifth at 221 as the Thais continued their domination of the local circuit after Supakchaya Pattanakrueang outlasted Rodriguez on the third playoff hole to win at Luisita last month.

Soisuwan’s victory was also Thailand’s fourth after eight legs of this year’s circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. Yupaporn Kawinpakorn topped the Beverly Place leg last January while Pavarisa Yoktuan reigned at Splendido last February via the same winning seven-stroke margin over Chihiro Ikeda, Dottie Ardina and Korean amateur Kim Hee Ji.

Princess Superal’s whopping 16-stroke romp over Rodriguez in Tagaytay last March remains the circuit’s biggest winning record.

Sofia Chabon, who shared the first round lead at 70, skied to a second 76 and dropped to joint seventh with fellow amateur Junia Gabasa, who matched par 72, at 222 while LPGT Eagle Ridge leg winner Chihiro Ikeda fumbled with a 74 for a share of ninth with Gretchen Villacencio, who made a 73, at 223 in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZGm PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.