LPGA Shoprite Classic: Aditi Ashok plays steady, lies 34th

India’s top star by a long distance, Aditi has been in good form as she finished inside top seven in the last two starts at the LPGA Volunteers of America LPGA and LPGA Mediheal.

Aditi Ashok, who is ranked 70th in the world and is positioned well at 47th in the CME Ranking of the LPGA, had four birdies against four bogeys to shoot even in the first round. (File Photo)   -  AFP

Returning to action after a three-week gap, India’s Aditi Ashok shot 71 and 68 to open her campaign in the LPGA Shoprite Classic at Galloway, Aditi, with a total of three-under 139, is tied 34th.

India’s top star by a long distance, Aditi has been in good form as she finished inside top seven in the last two starts at the LPGA Volunteers of America LPGA and LPGA Mediheal.

Aditi, who is ranked 70th in the world and is positioned well at 47th in the CME Ranking of the LPGA, had four birdies against four bogeys to shoot even in the first round.

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In the second round, Aditi dropped a shot early on the first hole, but thereafter birdied eighth, ninth, 15th and 18th to score 68. Aditi’s play in the second round was in contrast to her play in the first round.

While she found only six fairways in the first round, she found 13 on the second day. However, she putted extremely well on the first day, with just 22 putts and on the second day, she needed 28.

Meanwhile, Sei Young Kim (69-61) had as many as 11 birdies in her second round 61 to take a two-shot lead over Celine Herbin (66-66) in the weather-hit Shoprite LPGA.

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Kim was 10-under for the tournament with three holes left when play was suspended because of darkness. She came back and birdied two more in last three for a stunning 11-under 61 that included five on a row from 15th to first. She began the day with a birdie on 10th and 12th and dropped her only shot of the day at 14th. She birdied five in a row and then added four more in last seven holes.

Herbin, a biochemical engineer, who quit her job to be a pro golfer at 27, has made the cut in just five of 11 tournaments prior to this week. She shot identical 66 in the first two rounds.

In Bangkok

India’s S. Chikkarangappa and Rahil Gangjee finished in top 20 at the $300,000 Asian Tour-sanctioned Thailand Open ended, here, on Sunday.

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Chikka shot a final round of one-under 69 and finished the week at six-under 274 to be placed tied 13th, while Gangjee shot even par 70 to be tied 18th.

Panuphol Pittayarat of Thailand claimed a special victory at the Thailand Open after closing with an even-par 70 and 13-under 267 total. He held off a strong challenge from countryman Poom Saksansin (70) at the Par-70 Thai Country Club.

As for other Indians, Rashid Khan had a disappointing weekend as he carded 73-72 after shooting 67-68 in first two rounds. Rashid was even par 280 and ended tied 38th, while Chiragh Kumar (71) was tied 47th, Gaganjeet Bhullar (74) was tied 55th and Viraj Madappa (76) was tied 70th.

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The 25-year-old Panuphol battled nerves heading into the final six holes where he bogeyed 13 and 18, and almost found the water hazard with his third shot on the par-five 17th hole. He held on to victory after signing for a 13-under-par 267 total.

Poom, who represented Asia at the EurAsia Cup, earlier, in 2018, overtook the lead early in the round, but struggled to maintain his title charge following bogeys on 10 and 12, and ended his campaign on a 70 to settle for second place at 12-under 268, and one shot behind the champion.

Another Thai, the 20-year-old Sarit Suwannarut (70), enjoyed his best result on the Asian Tour after securing third place. With the win, Panuphol also took the early lead in the 2018-2019 Panasonic Swing race.

Panuphol is the fifth Thai player to win his National Open since 1965. It is also his second Asian Tour title. He won 2017’s Indonesia Open in October.