Cyna Rodriguez hit a late birdie to fire a three-under 69 in near-perfect condition at rain-drenched The Country Club yesterday then watched fellow amateur Miya Legaspi fumble with a bogey on No. 16 to grab a one stroke lead at the start of the inaugural ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour here.
Rodriguez banged in a five-foot birdie putt on No. 17, capping a solid backside stint of 34 for that 69 while pouncing on Legaspi’s shaky windup as the amateurs upstaged the compact pro field that includes the best of the old and new of Philippine ladies golf in this historic event.
Despite the condition, with practically no wind and most pins placed in front for easy targets, only four broke par while one turned in an even-par round as majority of the starting field struggled on soggy fairways and poor form.
“The course was so easy to play because there was no wind the whole morning,” said Rodriguez, who won the Philippine Ladies Open crown in 2010 at Southwoods. “But it became a little tougher when it rained as the ball hardly rolled.”
Legaspi, 14, appeared in control with a three-under card after 10 holes. But the recent winner in the Montecillo Cup made two bogeys against a birdie in a four-hole stretch from No. 13, settling for a 70 and in a tie with Jayvie Agojo, who emerged the top pro in the opener of the 54-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI.
Agojo, actually, surged ahead early with birdies in the first six holes for a 33, adding another on the par-5 10th for a four-under card. But the 2005 PH Ladies Open winner and former Hong Kong Am champion bogeyed Nos.12 and 15 to yield the lead.
“The pins were not as tough today. Most are on the front side of the green so I expected scores to be really good,” said Agojo, who made four birdies inside seven feet but failed to rescue a par from the bunker on the 12th and missed the green on the 15th.
Anya Tanpinco bucked a long layoff and shot a 71 on five birdies against four bogeys as the former Southern Ladies Open champion grabbed solo fourth.
Dottie Ardina shook off a jittery pro start of four bogeys in the first six holes as she fought back with two birdies and an eagle for a 72 to put herself in the early mix of contenders for the top P100,000 purse in the P500,000 event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“It was a bad start—errant drives and missed greens. But I stayed focused and hit those birdies and an eagle,” said Ardina, who set up a brilliant 5-wood second shot from 200 yards to within five feet on the par-5 No. 15.
“I actually had birdies chances in the last four holes but missed them all inside 12 feet,” said Ardina, who won three titles this year, including one in Thailand, in the run-up to her pro debut.
The amateurs actually dominated the first round action with Princess Superal carding a 73 for sixth, Sam Bruce and Harmie Constantino turning in identical 74s and Daniella Uy and Pauline Del Rosario shooting 75s to join pros Eva Miñoza, Lovelynn Guioguo and Sarah Ababa. Sofia Chabon and Marvi Monsalve, another pair of amateurs, each made a 76 to tie Jan Punzalan.
Heidi Chua, another former Phl Ladies Open champion who turned pro in 2004 but last saw action two years ago, groped for form with a 78, the same output put in by Reb Bareng and Tracy Que, who showed up with three-time Asian Tour leg winner and former PH Open champion Angelo, who took a break from the Asian Tour to caddie for his wife.