FUJIAN – Thailand’s Prima Thammaraks put herself in contention to claim her second win of the year on Friday when the second-year pro fired an impressive five-under 67 under windy conditions for a five stroke lead through two rounds of the Xiamen Orient Masters in Fujian.
The Bangkok native was nine-under 135 through 36 holes at the RMB500,000 China LPGA Tour event at Orient (Xiamen) Golf Country Club.
Overnight leader Supamas Sangchan was a distant second as the Thai stumbled to a one-over 73. Korean Chung Ye-na (70) was third at seven shots back, while amateur Du Mohan (71) was the top Chinese, tied for equal fourth with Thai’s Nattagate Nimitpongkul (69) and Renuka Suksukont (72) two shots further back. Chiang Rai’s Ploychompoo Wirairungrueng shot a 2 over par.
After starting the day two shots off the lead, Prima quickly went to work in posting five birdies over the front nine to make the turn at nine-under. The 25-year-old got to 11-under and a six-shot lead after birdies at the 11th and 13th holes. She then took a bogey five at the 14th hole and double-bogey six at the 15th hole before making birdie at the last.
“I am very surprised today. I played very well today. Everything was great, my driving was great and I am good at putting. Actually I didn’t hit very close to the hole as I did yesterday but I was putting really great today,” said Prima, winner of the Gold Coast Challenge in Australia in February.
“This year I have played a lot in windy conditions. Last week I was in the New Zealand Women’s Open and that was the worst conditions that I had ever played in, so I learned from that. I know I have to be more focused when I play and today I did really well. I realized my shots very clearly and I’m really focused. I think being in New Zealand really helped me.”
Supamas, who started the day with a two shot lead, struggled with the wind in her early morning round after starting from Orient Xiamen’s back nine. After playing par golf through her first seven holes she carded three straight bogeys from the 17th hole before rebounding for birdies at the third and fifth holes.
“Today the pins are tough and the wind was so strong, so it’s difficult to make more birdies. It’s just a normal day, not a bad day. The first bogey at hole 17 was three putts. At the 18th hole I hit it over the green as I couldn’t stop the ball. At the first hole I hit in the fairway bunker and the line is not so good, I hit a bad shot to make three on and two putts,” said the Bangkok native, winner of the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open in June.
“The third was the most impressive hole for me today. I used a pitching wedge for the second shot that was perfect and only had two feet left for the putt.”
Du, one of many strong Chinese amateurs coming up, rebounded from a one-over 37 on the front nine with two birdies on the back nine.
“I’m satisfied with my play today,” said the 15-year-old Beijing native. “The strong wind does influence the line of the ball and it’s more difficult to judge the distance.”
Lin Xiyu, the China Olympian who has lost her playing card stateside and will play in next month’s US LPGA Tour qualifying school, shot three-over 75 to sit equal 20th at 12 shots off the pace.
The Orient (Xiamen) Golf Country Club is a 6,352-yard, par-72 layout designed by Ronald Fream and TK Pen.
By Al Campbell