Cyna Rodriguez bucked a shaky windup and Mia Piccio’s strong finish to salvage a one-stroke lead, setting in motion her bid for a second straight championship with a two-under 70 in the P500,000 ICTSI Wack Wack Ladies Philippine Golf Tour at Wack Wack’s West course on Tuesday.
Three-up with two holes to play on a hot, humid day, Rodriguez bogeyed the par-4 17th after missing the green then watched Piccio birdie the 18th from 20 feet out for a 71, barely keeping the lead she seized after pouncing on her rival’s faulty start at the back.
“The greens aren’t in top shape but I’m very happy to have putted well,” said Rodriguez, who rolled in birdie putts from as far as 24 feet (No. 3).
The par-72 layout, severely hit by the recent typhoon, is still being spruced up, its putting surface littered with brown patches and not as receptive as it used to be, forcing the organizers to apply winter rules.
Sustaining the form that netted her an eight-shot romp at ICTSI Eagle Ridge LPGT two weeks ago, Rodriguez matched Piccio’s two-under 34 start in a virtual shootout in the featured threesome that included Tracy Que.
She went two-up after Piccio made back-to-back bogeys from No. 10, made it a three-shot lead with a birdie on No. 12 only to drop a stroke on the par-5 13th after missing the green. She, however, restored a three-stroke lead with a tap-in birdie on No. 15.
But just when Rodriguez appeared to be on her way to posting a big cushion in the 54-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI, Rodriguez missed the 17th green again and failed to return a six-footer and Piccio, after a run of pars from No. 12 to 17, knocked down a long birdie putt on the last hole to make it a one-stroke match.
With Chihiro Ikeda hobbling with a three-over 75 for joint third with Del Monte’s Apple Fudolin, and ace amateur Princess Superal fumbling with a four-over 76 for fifth, the battle for the top P100,000 purse in this fourth leg of the ladies pro circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. could be reduced to a two-player affair.
Ikeda, out to improve on her runner-up finish at ICTSI LPGT Canlubang, failed to find her rhythm and went four-over after 12 holes, marred by three straight bogeys from No. 10. She birdied the 17th for a 37-38 card.
Fudolin also hit a birdie on the 18th to match Ikeda’s output while Superal, fresh from a runaway victory in Kuala Lumpur, made four bogeys in the last 10 holes for a 37-39 round, six shots behind with 36 holes to play.