Pauline del Rosario battled through sun and rain and came away with a second straight 68, fending off a late-charging Princess Superal for a three-stroke lead after two rounds of the ICTSI Pradera Verde Ladies Classic in Lubao, Pampanga on Wednesday.
Del Rosario, who anchored her big opening round charge with a four-birdie string from No. 11, bucked poor club selection and outplayed Superal and Thai Tiranan Yoopan in their frontside shootout in sweltering heat then practically matched her rivals’ birdie-binge in the rain at the back to stay on top at eight-under 136.
“I have a problem with my club selection, some of my approach shots were over the target,” said Del Rosario, who still moved 18 holes away from nailing her third crown on the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.
“I’ll still go for the greens tomorrow but I’ll try to be more careful with my (club) selection,” added the Orchard and Baguio legs winner, who braces for a tougher final round challenge with Superal finally hitting her stride and sinking her birdie putts.
The former US Girls’ Junior champion, who started the round four behind Del Rosario at third, fell another stroke back with a 36 start but ran off five straight birdies, including in a pitch-in feat on No. 16, to close out her 67 card and threaten the two-day leader at 139.
“I played better today (yesterday) than the first round. I had few errors, including on No. 5 (par-4) where I dumped my approach shot into the bunker and putted short,” said Superal. “But overall, it was a good game. I’ll just go for sure scores tomorrow (today) and see what happens.”
Two down at the start of the day, Yoopan reeled back with a 37 after nine holes but birdied three of the first five holes at the back to save a second 70 although the Thai ace slid to third at 140, four shots off Del Rosario.
The rest stood too far behind the troika with former three-time LPGT Order of Merit winner Cyna Rodriguez carding a 71 for an even 144, former leg winner amateur Bernice Olivarez-Ilas fumbling with a 74 for a 147 and Chihiro Ikeda, also a former leg champion, matching par 72 for a 148.
Sofia Chabon, the other amateur from The Country Club stable, also carded a 72 for a 149 while Gretchen VIllacencio, Apple Fudolin and Japanese amateur Kinjo Mana took the next three spots at 77-152, 75-153 and 78-156, respectively.
Del Rosario, who scored a breakthrough at Orchard then dominated the Baguio stop of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., looked headed to pulling away with a 35 start then birdied Nos. 10 and 12 to post a seven-shot lead over Superal.
But after a couple of missed birdie chances at the back, Superal birdied Nos. 14 and 15, matched Del Rosario’s birdie on the 16th then birdied the last two in close range to put herself into contention for the top P150,000 purse in the P750,000 seventh leg of the circuit backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.