Hometown girl Kusuma Meechai was on fire as she carded a sizzling 63 to take a two-shot lead after the first round of the 7th Bt2.5 million SAT-TWT Open Road to World Ranking at Kabin Buri Sport Club in Prachinburi on Wednesday.
Despite the wet condition at the par 72 6,438-yard and rain interruption, the 27-year-old did not let her focus go down as she unleashed nine birdies, five on the front, to dominate the leaders’ board with Arpichaya Yubol and Budsabakorn Sukapan coming at second, each with a 65.
“I’m a bit excited to play at home but I try to bring it on out there. I hit the iron well and putted well which is why I finished the first day with a low score,” said Kusuma who settled at tied second along with Trichat Cheenglab (losing to eventual champion Supamas Sangchan) in the previous circuit at Panorama Golf and Country Club in Nakhon Ratchasima a fortnight ago.
“I couldn’t be happier about all aspects of my game. I hit the ball close to the pins and never missed a putt. Even I was born in this province, I don’t play at this course a lot as I normally live in Bangkok. So, I have no pressure at all,” added Kusuma who has three professional wins under her belt.
“I came close to winning on this tour several times especially two weeks ago. I hope the way I started the week would give me a great momentum going into the last two days,” added Kusuma.
Former LPGA Tour member Budsabakorn also produced unblemished form in the opening round, carding three birdies on the front and four more after the turn.
“I’m so happy with my iron. My game plan really worked out there,” said the 24-year-old player, a four-time winner on the JLPGA Step Up Tour.
Budsabakorn has been carrying a good momentum since the first stage of the LPGA Q-School where she finished at tied 25th which rewarded her a berth into the second stage.
“Playing well in the LPGA Q-School really gave me a boost of confidence. I finally found my momentum again and realized that I should play with a pressure free attitude,” said Budsabakorn who said that she needs to work on her physical fitness and mental toughness to get ready for the next LPGA Q-School stage in October.
Arpichaya, a two-time runner-up on the Thai WPGA Tour last year, generated six birdies on the back nine, two on the front against a lone bogey on the ninth.
Fresh from finishing lone third in the Thailand Mixed event on Sunday which earned her a wildcard into the December’s Women’s Australian Open, Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong still continued her good form into this week, shooting five birdies for a 67.
“Overall, it’s a pleasing round although there are some shots that I should have made better,” said the 25-year-old player in her third event on homesoil this season.
The 7th SAT-TWT Open Road to World Ranking is competed in a three-day stroke-play format with a total of 54 holes (18 holes each day). Top 60 and ties, after 36 holes, will move to compete in the final round. The winner will receive the top prize money of Bt367,500.
The SAT-TWT Open Road to World Ranking is sponsored by the Sports Authority of Thailand, National Sports Development Fund, Siam Commercial Bank, P Overseas Steal (Public Company Limited) and Kabin Buri Sport Club in Prachinburi. Fans can catch up with news updates on ThaiWPGA Facebook Fanpage or at www.thaiwpga.com.
The Thai Women’s Professional Golf Association has been established with the objective to support and promote Thai women’s golf activities. The association aims at organizing local tour with world ranking points in the near future which will pave the way for Thai golfers to the international arena. In addition, Thai women’s golfers can use the tour to develop their skills to meet the universal standard. Moreover, medium-proficiency level players can gain experience from Challenger tours which can help produce new generation players and at the same time develop golf human resources and systematic golf organization locally.