Apple Jeen Fudolin stumbled with a three-putt bogey on No. 18 for a three-over 64, dropping to a share of the lead with Pauline del Rosario at the start of the ICTSI Baguio Ladies Classic in Baguio on Wednesday.
The last-hole mishap at the straight par-3 finishing hole typified the field’s struggle at the unpredictable putting surface of the short but tricky layout, which proved to be as tough as the long, championship courses on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour calendar.
“I didn’t expect to be sharing the lead. I made too many errors on the green,” said Fudolin, who birdied No. 6 but fumbled with four bogeys at the backside, which features all but one par-3.
The Del Monte shotmaker, who has never contended for the crown in a long while, looked headed to grabbing the first day honors in the P1 million event sponsored by ICTSI with a two-over card going to 18th. But after hacking an 8-iron at the 166-yard closing hole to pin-high length, she putted short then missed from four feet.
Earlier, Del Rosario also three-putted the 18th as she, like Fudolin and the rest of the field, groped for putting form with the recent Orchard leg winner still adjusting to the condition coming off a joint sixth place finish in Thailand LPGA.
“It’s tough to adjust to the speed of the greens here coming from Thailand where we played on sleek putting surface. But I came in too aggressive on some holes. It was short but wasn’t easy to reach the green. Precision shots should be my focus since there are only two holes that are long,” said del Rosario, who fumbled with back-to-back bogeys from No. 2, dropped another stroke on the 12th before birdying the next.
The duo seized a one-stroke lead over former leg winner Sarah Ababa and Chihiro Ikeda, who carded identical 65s, while Thai Ananya Vitayakonkomol bogeyed the last three holes and slid to joint fifth with amateurs Kristine Torralba and Gretchen Villacencio with 68s.
Thais Chatprapa Siriprakob and Tiranan Yoopan skied to 69s while Japanese amateur Kelly Marutani limped with a 70 in a tie with Thais Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang and Chayuda Singhsuwan, who struggled in a day where birdies proved to be an exception rather than the norm given the 4,115-yardage of the par-61 course.
The event, organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf, is staking P250,000 to the winner.