Amateur Bernice Olivarez-Ilas flashed top form on the very site of her recent victory and carded a one-under 70 then pounced on Chihiro Ikeda’s backside foldup to grab a three-stroke lead in the second round of ICTSI Beverly Place Challenge in Mexico, Pampanga on Thursday.
Ranged against the pros, including the veteran Lovelynn Guioguio, the 14-year-old Ilas proved she’s up to the task, even putting the pressure on her fancied rivals with superb driving and iron shots and steady putting. Two behind Ikeda after 18 holes, The Country Club mainstay moved up by two on a three-shot swing on the par-3 12th then pulled away by three as Ikeda bogeyed the par-5 14th.
“I’ll just take it one shot at a time but I must stay focused all throughout the final round tomorrow (today),” said Ilas, who rolled in a long birdie putt from 30 feet on No. 12 then watched Ikeda miss the green and end up with a three-putt mishap for a 5.
With a one-under 141, Ilas, a La Salle-Zobel student who won here last week during the Jungolf-The Junior Golf League tournament, moved 18 holes away from duplicating TCC spearhead Princess Superal’s recent victories in the country’s first-ever ladies pro circuit sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
But Ikeda, who wound up with a 75 and a 144, vowed to strike back but stressed the need to toughen up with her irons and polish her putting stroke to foil her amateur rival’s bid and nail the elusive crown.
“I struggled with my irons, most ending up in trouble and I missed a lot of greens. But there are still 18 holes left, I just have to minimize my mistakes,” said Ikeda.
Sam Martirez, also a member of the TCC stable, joined Ikeda at second by matching Ilas’ 70 on a fiery windup that featured three birdies in the last six holes while another amateur, this time from Malaysia, Kellie Kan, carded a 72 to tie former leg winner and Philippine Ladies Open winner Jayvie Agojo, who also put in a 72, at 147.
Martirez, who turned in a strong joint third effort in the Taiwan LPGA Tour and LPGT leg at Manila Southwoods and also won the Royal Selangor Golf Club title in Malaysia last month, headed for a disastrous finish after going two-over after 10 holes. But she birdied No. 13 then gained two more strokes on Nos. 16 and 18 to wheel back into contention in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Champion, TaylorMade and Pacsports.
The rest are too far behind to contend for top honors worth P100,000 with Mikha Fortuna, also from the TCC squad, laying eight shots behind at 149 after a 76 and Anya Tanpinco another stroke back at 150 despite a decent 73.
Guiiguio skied to a 78 and tumbled to eighth at 151 while TCC’s Kayla Nocum bounced back with a 75 to tie last year’s Sherwood Hills leg champion Sarah Ababa, who faltered with a 78, at 153.