Pavarisa holds tight lead
at Honda LPGA qualifying tournament
By Richard C Talbot
It is barely a week ago that everyone seemed to be celebrating the start of 2019 yet very quickly people’s minds are starting to turn to the start of the Honda LPGA tournament on the Siam Old Course. It is still 43 days away yet the preparations really started today with day 1 of the qualifying tournament for Thai Nationals.
This is no easy tournament to win as the starting 56 players are just aiming for the top position. There is only one place available to win yet this has not stopped many players entering in order to try and satisfy their desire of playing in the LPGA event.
This has been running since 2006 and although a Thai player has yet to lift the trophy, the prestige of hosting it has gone a long way to helping Thai female golf reach the high position in world golf that it finds itself in today.
The attraction of winning a coveted place has attracted the old and the young, the professionals and the amateurs, plus players from a wide range of different tours. Just having the opportunity to test their skills on a championship course has been enough to attract a strong field at the start of this week.
The Old Course has stood up to its billing as it is in magnificent shape. As spring approaches the Eastern Seaboard of Thailand the lush green fairways are an indication of how hard the ground-staff have been working to get the playing areas in tip top condition. This matched with lightening greens makes the challenge of taming the course even greater, and many of the top players in the world will not be disappointed when they first set eyes on the course at the end of February.
However, on this occasion the day has been for the national players and as the stands were starting to be erected around the number 18 green, the players set about the business of making a good start to this two day tournament. The best round of the day was scored by the 24 year old, Pavarisa Yoktuan, who shot a splendid 4 under par total of 68. Her third position in the 2018 Symetra Tour in the United States showed that this was no fluke and she will be difficult to catch in round 2.
Lying just behind by one shot is the teenage amateur from Chiangmai, Chanettee Wannasaen. Already experienced from representing the Thai Junior teams, she found the conditions in her favor to shoot a wonderful 69, leaving her with a great chance if she can continue with her current form.
These two players are the only ones who managed to break 70 yet it will be of no surprise that they will be joined in the final group tomorrow by two golfers who are currently playing on the LPGA tour. In 2017 Benyapa Niphatsophon won the Symetra tour and 2018 has seen her playing in many LPGA tournaments. Her round of 70 leaves her in a strong position and she will be a real danger if she continues with the form that she showed on the back 9 today.
The final group is made up tomorrow by Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong who finished the first round with a score of 71. Her experience at the majors in 2018 will hold her in good stead for the final round, as no player in the field has made more progress in the last 12 months than the 21 year old, from Bueng Kan.
There are also many other players in the field who are certainly not without a chance, and the prospect of this competition “going down to the wire” offers a mouth-watering prospect. It befits the stature of the tournament that it is started by such a wonderful contest, and all of the players who have taken part will have benefited greatly from playing on such a wonderful golf course.