Cyna Rodriguez missed posting a huge opening round lead with a double-bogey finish, settling for a two-under 70 and a two-stroke lead over Fil-Am Cristina Corpus and Thai Jaruporn Palakawongnaayuttaya in the ICTSI Royal Northwoods Ladies Challenge at the Royal Northwoods Golf Club in San Rafael Bulacan on Tuesday.
On her way to an explosive start with four birdies after 17 holes, Rodriguez hit an errant shot on the par-4 closing hole and failed to recover, ending up with a double-bogey 6 that marred an otherwise solid 35-35 start.
That gave her rivals some lift to keep it close with Corpus, seeking a follow-up to her breakthrough win at Luisita last year, mixing two birdies with the same number of bogeys for a 37-35 and Palakawongnaayuttaya turning in a roller-coaster round of three-birdies against three bogeys for a similar 37-35 card.
Chihiro Ikeda, out to seal her claim on the Order of Merit title with a victory here, blew a birdie-birdie feat from No. 3 as she bogeyed four of the last 11 holes to tumbled to joint fourth at 74 with 36 holes left in the P1 million event sponsored by ICTSI.
While Rodriguez wavered at the finish, Jayvie Agojo leaned on a fiery windup to get back into contention. The former leg winner and Philippine Ladies Open champion birdied the last two holes to join Ikeda at two-over.
Other 74 scorers were Apple Fudolin, who fumbled with two bogeys in the last six holes, and Lovelyn Guioguio, who birdied the 17th.
Hwang Min-jeong, the Korean lass who humbled Rodriguez and Princess Superal at Mt. Malarayat last year, also stumbled with a double-bogey on the tricky finishing hole and dropped to solo eighth at 75, five strokes off the pace.
Thais Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang and Sarauttaya Ngam-usawan also hobbled in tough conditions with the former bogeying Nos. 15 and 16 for a 76 and the latter dropping four straight strokes from No. 7 en route to a 77.
Indonesian Jessica Lydia likewise found the going tough in her first stint on the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, making seven bogeys and a double bogey with no birdie to show for an 81.
Rodriguez, the reigning three-time OOM winner in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., settled for pars in the first seven holes but came through with two birdies in the next three holes to wrest early control.
Priming up for the LPGA Stage III elims next month, she racked up four straight pars from No. 11 before gunning down birdies on Nos. 15 and 17 to go four-under in the penultimate leg of the 10-stage circuit backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Champion, TaylorMade, Ping, Yamaha and Pacsports.