Amateur Pauline del Rosario recovered from an early struggle on the unpredictable putting surface of Eagle Ridge’s Aoki course, birdying four of the last seven holes to fire a one-under 71 in the rain and seize a three-shot lead over Cyna Rodriguez and Lucy Landicho at the start of the P500,000 ICTSI Eagle Ridge Ladies Invitational in Gen. Trias, Cavite on Tuesday.
Del Rosario, who just arrived over the weekend after teaming up with Princess Superal and Miya Legaspi in the Philippines’ 10th place finish in the World Amateurs in Japan, dropped four straight strokes from No. 4 on errant drives and poor putting. But the top ICTSI team mainstay found her touch in time, birdying the par-3 No. 8 from five feet before scorching the backside with five birdies to negate her fifth bogey on No. 11.
“I couldn’t get a good read on the speed of the greens in the early going. The condition was also tough because my ball seemed to bounce every time I putt. But I told myself to stay steady after I birdied No. 12. Since then, I was hitting the greens in regulation,” said the 15-year-old Del Rosario, who also had to catch up with her school requirements at De La Salle-Zobel.
Del Rosario, also priming up for the Asian Games in two weeks time, had a birdie-bogey start at the back before birdying the par-5 No. 12 from four feet. She rolled in another five-footer on No. 14 then bucked the downpour in the last four holes by tapping for birdie on the par-5 No. 15 and sinking a 10-footer on the 18th.
Rodriguez, chasing a third straight win on the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour after dominating the ICTSI John Hay and ICTSI Mt. Malarayat legs the last two months, also faltered in the early going, bogeying No. 1 and dropping two strokes on the par-4 No. 3. She rebounded with back-to-back birdies from No. 6 but bogeyed No. 9 and settled for a one-birdie, one-bogey stint at the back which flubbing two makeable birdie putts for a two-over 74.
“The greens were bumpy. It was very difficult to putt,” said Rodriguez, who finished tied for 14th in a ladies pro event in Thailand last week.
That was the same output put in by Landicho, who wound up 12th at Malarayat but had a pretty good round of 37-37 given the condition of the course.
“I’m very happy with my game today [yesterday],” said Landicho after turning in a four-bogey, two-birdie round, her best start on the circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Sarah Ababa strung up a 38 and 37 to share fourth with Korean Kwon Seo Yon, who rallied with two birdies in the last four holes to salvage a closing 34, while Thai Amolkan Phalajivin, runner-up to Rodriguez in the last two legs of the tour backed Nike, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp, missed grabbing solo second with three bogeys in the last three holes for a 76.
Jayvie Agojo, winner at Riviera, also had a forgettable round of 39-38 and a 77 that dropped her to joint seventh with Lovelynn Guioguio, while Chihiro Ikeda, the other fancied player in the compact field, failed to get going with a 40 start, fumbling with three more bogeys with a lone birdie to show at the back for a 78, seven strokes off Del Rosario.