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2019 Taiwan LPGA Tour | Hitachi Ladies Classic Final-Round Recap
Date:2019-01-13

Parinda Phokan of Thailand came from two shots down and used a final-hole birdie, her sixth of the day, to emerge as the victor of TLPGA Tour’s season opener, the 2019 Hitachi Ladies Classic. This is her sixth career title and first victory outside of Thailand. The win is worth NT$2.5 million, the biggest paycheck Phokan has received.

It marks the first TLPGA Tour title for Phokan. The 22-year-old also held a CLPGA Tour title at the PTT Thailand LPGA Masters in September.

Phokan came up with rounds of 69, 69 and 66 in pleasant scoring conditions for a total of 12-under-par 204 at the Orient Golf and Country Club, ending one stroke ahead of compatriot Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul.

Muangkhumsakul carded bogey-free 67 on Sunday, missing the birdie putt on the 18th green which could have forced a play-off. Her final total of 205 kept her at solo second place, pocketing NT$1,150,000 prize money.

The best finishing Taiwanese was 18-year-old amateur Chang Ya-Chun (張雅淳), who also fired a 66 to wind up in solo third, 10-under 206.

36-hole leader Chen Yu-Ju (陳宇茹) signed off with a 71 to finished in tied fourth position with Chonlada Chayanun on 9-under. Chayanun registered a final-round 69.

In equal sixth was a five-way tie that included Jessica Peng (彭婕), Wu Chia-Yen (吳佳晏), Hou Yu-Sang (侯羽桑), Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan and Japanese Mamiko Higa.

Thirteen holes into today’s final round, Thai trio Muangkhumsakul, Chayanun, and Phokan all raced to 10-under, tying with overnight leader Chen Yu-Ju. Chayanun and Chen bogeyed the 15th to fell out of the chase first. With a birdie on the 14th, Muangkhumsakul set the clubhouse target at 11-under-par, which meant Phokan, who picked up a birdie as well on the 15th, needed a birdie on the last hole to claim the victory, which she delivered in style, holing out the winning putt from 7 feet.

Phokan said she set herself a goal which was to record six birdies, which she did no less and no more. “I was even making those birdies on the holes I planned to make them. It was a wonderful feeling,” said Phokan. “I wasn’t really checking the leaderboard, and only on the final hole that I realized I had a chance to win. All I needed to do was to make that birdie putt, which I did! I’m really happy with my round.”

“I didn’t do well here last year, it was hard to play when it was so windy, but it’s been surprisingly calm these few days. I tried to take my time and take my chances, hit some solid irons. The putter held up nicely out there,” Phokan said. She used 29 putts on Sunday.

Starting to play competitive golf when she was 10, Phokan made her first international stride into the China LPGA Tour in 2017. She reached a new career high by notching one win and a runner-up finish in 2018, propelling her to be the no.4 player on the CLPGA Tour’s year-end money list. The Thai native first earned her full-playing status on the TLPGA Tour in 2017.

18-year-old Chang Ya-Chun’s superb consistency again helped her put up another blemish-free round. She missed only one fairway and reached 17 greens in regulation. A final birdie on the 18th where she played her iron into just 9 feet set her apart from early leaders Chayanun and Chen.

“I was playing very focused, great golf. My putting was very solid, so was the longer shots,” Chang said. “I left a few putts, like on the 10th I actually made it to the green in two shots but I gained nothing from there, but I think I dealt with the condition nicely today. And that birdie on the 18th was the final touch.”

Chen, on the other hand, couldn’t raise the her putting level and saw her lead gradually evaporate. “I missed a lot of putts on the back nine,” said Chen. “The bogey on the 15th was a huge letdown, where I drove into the bunker. It made me two shots down. I knew my chance had gone. On a day when everybody went low, you just couldn’t make bogey.” Chen needed 35 putts.

Four-time winner Pornanong Phatlum wrapped up with a final-round 73 to share the 13th place on 3-under.

Crowd favorite Yani Tseng (曾雅妮) made 36 attempts on the green today; she finished on 72 and 1-under-par in total, leaving her in a tie for 22nd.

The 2019 edition is the 11th staging of the Hitachi Ladies Classic, presented by Hitachi Ltd., Johnson Controls-Hitachi Air Conditioning Taiwan Co., Ltd.. This year’s ticket revenue and an equal bonus from Hitachi, accumulatively NT$6.4 million, was donated to endow nine local charities. The donation amount has reached NT$54.7 million over the last eleven years.

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