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Undeterred by bogeys, teen Atthaya races to six-stroke lead in Phoenix Classic

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The in-form Atthaya Thitikul shot a second-round 67 to establish a six-shot lead heading into the final round of the Bt1-million Phoenix Ladies Classic at the Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club in Pattaya on Saturday.

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Starting at the back nine, the teenager swapped three birdies with three bogeys before getting into the grove to fire five birdies at the front to lead on 12-under-par 132 in highly humid conditions at the beach resort.

“I got off to a good start with a birdie on the 11th hole but then my tee shots were inconsistent,” said the 18-year-old, who won five local titles last year. “But I finally got back my momentum and started shooting scores at the front,” added the teen prodigy, who set a record at the Phoenix Gold as the youngest player to have won two Ladies European Tour titles when she was 16. She won the LET Thailand Championship here in 2017 and 2019.

Despite her big lead and victorious run on this landscape, Atthaya did not write off the chances of other players challenging her on the final day.

“Even I won here twice or have familiarity with this course, it won’t matter if things don’t go my way tomorrow. Win or loss will be fine with me. I just need to fix some parts of my game, especially on my driver,” added Atthaya, who is tuning herself up before she joins the LET in May.

Earlier this year, she competed against the men in the Thailand Mixed event in Hua Hin where she settled for second, and at the Boonchu Ruangkit Championship but missed the cut. That proved a valuable experience for the talented young player.

“I learned interesting tips and techniques from the likes of Prayad Marksaeng and Thammanoon Sriroj. They have good short games that I can apply,’’ said Atthaya.

Undeterred by bogeys, teen Atthaya races to six-stroke lead in Phoenix Classic Kultida Pramphun

Two teenagers, Kultida Pramphun and Chanettee Wannasaen, fell six shots off the pace.

Kultida had an uneven round where she shot an eagle on the ninth hole and three birdies only to commit three bogeys and a double bogey on the 16th hole to settle with an even-par 72 and a total six-under-par 138.

“I was playing unbelievably at the front nine, but I made mistakes and couldn’t get out of trouble. I will try to cut down the unforced errors in the final round,” said the 19-year-old from Pathumthani province, who bagged one career title two years ago at the Royal Hills Golf Resort and Spa in Nakhon Nayok province. She believes six shots off the lead is not too far to catch up.

“Atthaya is a good player. You have to give it to her for that. But anything can happen on any given day,” said Kultida.

Undeterred by bogeys, teen Atthaya races to six-stroke lead in Phoenix Classic Chanettee Wannasaen

Chanettee, 16, from Chiang Mai, became another strong contender after a second-round 71. This is her third tournament as a professional player after finishing fourth in her last two events (Thailand Masters in 2020 and Thailand Mixed in February).

“Being in this position is beyond expectation. I just wish I had a better score. About tomorrow, I hope to go out there and have fun,” said Chanettee.

A total of 82 players will progress to Sunday’s round. The cut was made at 10 over par.

Published : March 27, 2021

By : THE NATION