Saranporn Langkulgasettrin continued to wield a hot hand a week after winning the TLPGA Open as the Thai teenager carded a four-under 68 to take the first-round lead at the PTT Thailand LPGA Masters in the Thai capital.
Malaysian Ainil Bakar and Chinese Taipei's Chen Yu-ju were one shot back at 69 at the 4 million baht (about 120,000 U.S. dollars) tournament, a tri-sanctioned event between the China LPGA, the Australian LPG and the Thai LPGA. China's Li Jiayun shot a 70 over the Panya Indra Golf Club composite course (Palm and Garden nines) to sit equal fourth with Thais PK Kongkraphan, Renuka Suksukont, Chatprapa Siriprakob, Nemittra Juntanaket and Parinda Phokan.
Saranporn, the current China LPGA Tour Order of Merit leader who won last week's Kenda Tires TLPGA Open, started her early morning round from the 10th tee and came out firing. The 17-year-old carded five birdies through her first seven holes to make the turn at five-under 31. The front nine proved a different animal as she had three bogeys and two birdies.
"Really good today. I love my shots, really nice. Being the champion in the TLPGA Open last week gave me more confidence with my shots, especially my driver and putting. The golf course is in really condition, the fairways and greens are amazing," said the Phuket native, a winner of four tournaments this year.
"Tomorrow, I'm going to stay on my plan and try to fix the bogeys that I got today because some of the bogeys were crazy and stupid. My highlight today is hole 14. I missed the fairway and then the second shot I used my hybrid. The bunker is on the left side so I hit on the right side. I have 18 yards for a birdie putt and I aimed at the back of hole and made it. It's a really long shot, I just feel wow!"
Bakar registered four birdies on the front nine and had a chance to grab a share of the lead until she bogeyed the final hole, a 366-yard par four.
"I feel good today, the putting is good. I just missed a couple greens and one bogey on the last hole. My iron shots are not bad today," said the veteran, winner of last year's Finnish Open on the LET development tour.
"The greens are a little bit harder on the back nine, which make the ball roll. They don't stay near the flag. Most of the flags on the back nine are in the front of the greens. I can't get close enough. Tomorrow, I just plan to go out and focus on my game. I don't really have any plan."
Chen posted five birdies and two late bogeys after starting her round from the back nine.
"My game today is all right, not very good. I got four birdies on the first nine and one more birdie on the back nine. The two bogeys are both because of three-putting," she said.
"In this event, the idea of winning is stronger because a Thai player (Saranporn) won the championship in Taipei. I want to be a champion in Thailand."
Chinese national team player Li put herself in the hunt for her third pro win with a round than featured four birdies and two bogeys.
"I feel good today. I am satisfied with the result today because I have had a fever for the last two days. I am in good condition now," said the Guangzhou native.
"The golf course is pretty good, greens are good. The fairways are not good for roll because of the heavy rain the last few days. The course is garden style so there isn't too much fluctuation, but the hotter the weather the faster the greens are. I couldn't get close enough in the afternoon, so the two bogeys are both because of three-putting."
Panya Indra Golf Club is a 6,536-yard, par-72 layout (Palm and Garden composite course) designed by Ronald Fream. Enditem