Pauline del Rosario blew a hot start but recovered from a wobbly midway stint with a sizzling backside rally as she shot a four-under 68 and seized a two-stroke lead over Thai Tiranan Yoopan at the start of the ICTSI Pradera Verde Ladies Classic on Tuesday in Lubao, Pampanga.
Del Rosario, who tinkered with her swing during the break to maintain her strength, birdied three of the first seven holes to take charge early, only to drop off the leaderboard with three straight bogeys from No. 8 under scorching heat. But she rattled off four birdies-in-row from No. 11 to post a 35-33 card and upstage fancied Princess Superal and Cyna Rodriguez for the early lead in the P750,000 event at the sprawling Pradera Verde Golf and Country Club.
“I struggled with my long game a bit but I hope to play a more steady game in the next two days,” said Del Rosario, seeking to nail a third leg win after scoring a breakthrough at Orchard and then dominating the Baguio stop last June.
With Superal, who has posted emphatic wins as an amateur and pro in the country’s premier circuit put up ICTSI, and Rodriguez failing to get going, Yoopan took the challenger’s role with a 70.
“I should play a relaxed game, just enjoy it and try to lessen my missed putts,” said Yoopan, who went on a roller-coaster ride of three birdies against three bogeys in the first eight holes but put herself back in contention with birdies on Nos. 9 and 13.
Superal, who with Rodriguez are on a break from the Symetra Tour, blew her birdie bids on the first two par-5s but birdied the other two at the back, including the island green finishing hole to salvage a 36-36-72 card, four shots off Del Rosario.
Superal and Rodriguez groped for their putting form and rued the hot weather after coming from a stint in chilly playing condition in the US the last five months.
Rodriguez, who has dominated the first three seasons of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., had an up-and-down round at the long but flat layout, hitting four birdies but stumbling with five bogeys to drop to 73 for joint fourth with amateur and former leg champion Bernice Olivarez-Ilas, who churned out a one birdie-two bogey game.
Lucy Landicho played steady golf in the first eight holes but made back-to-back double bogeys from No. 9 and needed to birdie the 17th to card a 75 for joint sixth with Gretchen Villacencio, who grabbed the lead with a two-under card after seven holes as Del Rosario fell off the leaderboard with three straight bogeys.
But Villacencio slipped with a triple bogey 6 on the par-3 No. 8 and bogeyed the last two holes to drop seven shots off the pace.