National champion Harmie Constantino drilled in a late birdie to cap a rollercoaster round, her 71 netting her a one-stroke lead over fellow amateur Daniella Uy, and pros Chihiro Ikeda and Thais Saraporn Chamchoi and Chatprapa Siriprakob at the start of the ICTSI Malarayat Ladies Classic in Lipa, Batangas on Tuesday.
Constantino struggled in tough conditions at the Mt. Malarayat composite courses, fumbling with bogeys right after she would hit a birdie and kept that roll to the very end, knocking down her fifth birdie on the 17th to negate her four-bogey mishap in a 36-35 round.
But that proved enough to shove the many-time national team mainstay to the top of the compact field although four players stood just a stroke behind and two more stayed three or four behind heading to the last 36 holes of the P750,000 event sponsored by ICTSI.
Uy, a former Junior World champion, turned in a one-birdie, one-bogey effort to lead the 72 scorers, who included back-to-back title-seeking Ikeda, who birdied two of the last three holes to salvage a 37-35 and pulled within one.
But Chamchoi and Siriprakob likewise put themselves in early contention with the former, who has had a number of near-misses in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., blowing a 35 start with bogeys on Nos. 10 and 12 but birdied the par-31 15th.
Siriprakob matched Ikeda’s strong finish, birdying Nos. 16 and 18 to stay on track of her breakthrough bid in the sixth leg of the circuit backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Champion, TaylorMade and Pacsports.
Sarah Ababa, seeking a follow-up to her maiden pro win at Sherwood last year, rammed in two birdies but stumbled with four bogeys, the last on No. 16 as she settled for a 74 while Chanelle Avaricio, another amateur, carded a 75.
The 19-year-old Avaricio, coming off an emphatic win in the recent Sta. Lucia Amateur Tour, actually kept a one-over card after 14 holes but reeled back with back-to-back bogeys from No. 15 and slid to solo seventh.
Last year’s Luisita leg champion Cristina Corpus and Jayvie Agojo, also a former LPGT titlist at Riviera, shot 76s for joint eighth with Lucy Landicho while another pair of amateurs – Marvin Monsalve and Sheryl Villasencio – took the next two places with 78 and 79, respectively.
Constantino, playing out of Villamor, fought back from a bogey on No. 2 with a birdie on the next, went one-under with another birdie on the fifth only to drop a stroke on the next. She birdied No. 11 but bogeyed the next and birdied No. 13 only to yield another stroke on No. 15.
Uy dished out a steady round all day but flubbed a couple of birdie chances and missed grabbing a share of the lead or moving past Constantino while Ikeda, Siriprakob and Chamchoi leaned on a late charge to stay in contention for the top P150,000 purse.