Sports

Thai golfer Pornanong flies Asean flag high

Many eyebrows were raised when they scanned the HSBC Women's Champions leaderboard at the end of Round Two yesterday at Sentosa Golf Club.

You would expect the South Koreans and Americans to make a run for it, which they did.

But up there in joint-third place alongside former world No. 2 Suzann Pettersen on seven-under 137 was Thailand's Pornanong Phatlum.

The 26-year-old (below) has stood out with her pop art comic-inspired skirt, Chanel earrings and pink golf balls.

She also showed nerves of steel to hole a tricky 15-footer on the 18th to cap a solid round of 67 which included six birdies against a lone bogey on the Serapong Course yesterday.

World No. 34 Pornanong is feeling confident this week.

"I feel very good today, I played a solid game, made 16 greens in regulation and needed just 29 putts," said Pornanong, who tasted victory in the 2012 HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup, a 36-hole exhibition event.

"I'm feeling more confident and I can still do better. I'm definitely aiming for a top-10 finish or even to win."

Singapore's sole player Koh Sock Hwee, making her third appearance in this tournament, also acquitted herself well with a one-over 73 for a two-round total of 149 in just her second tournament as a professional.

This was also the best score by a Singaporean in any round at this tournament, although Singaporeans Amelia Yong, Joey Poh, Christabel Goh, Amanda Tan and Koh have all finished last since the tournament's inception in 2008.

The 26-year-old Koh displayed great temperament yesterday to bounce back after making a birdie and five bogeys in her first 10 holes to record four birdies against one bogey.

She is in joint-53rd spot with Brittany Lang and Yoo Sun Young, who have three LPGA Tour titles between them.

Koh is also ahead of two former world No. 1s - Ai Miyazato (T56) and five-time Major winner Tseng Ya-ni (62nd).

She credited Sentosa Golf Club's support for her strong finish, as she was allowed to practise on the course for a month before the tournament.

"If I had not practised on the course, I would definitely have been taken aback by the windy conditions," said Koh, whose four-round total of 307 last year was also the best for a Singaporean in this tournament.

"Now that I'm a professional, I need to make every round count and finish as high as possible to boost my earnings.

"The most memorable thing that happened today was seeing my flightmate Ai Miyazato make a hole-in-one on the eighth. I know I'm ahead of her and Ya-ni at the moment, but I don't feel anything special. I just want to continue playing better and try to break par tomorrow." 


- DAVID LEE

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