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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Baraquiel grabs lead as Avaricio slows down

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Laurel, Batangas—Sunshine Baraquiel pulled ahead in a spirited duel for the lead that kept on changing hands until she hit a clutch birdie on No. 15 to save a second 71, and Chanelle Avaricio hobbled with closing bogeys for a 73 in the second round of the ICTSI Splendido Taal Challenge here on Wednesday.

Sunshine Baraqueil studies her approach to hole no. 9. Manny Marcelo

Baraquiel took command with a 35 start as first round leader Avaricio grappled with her driver and putter and flubbed short par-putts that led to a 38. But the latter regained the lead with a fiery three-birdie binge from No. 10, only to yield it with bogeys in the last two holes.

That enabled Baraquiel to snatch a one-stroke lead at 142, moving 18 holes away from nailing her second career victory after scoring a breakthrough under wicked conditions at Tagaytay Highlands last November.

“I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdies but I missed a couple of three-footers and another three-footer for par,” said Baraquiel, who rebounded from a bogey start with birdies on Nos. 2 and 6 to wrest control as Avaricio dropped two strokes on the par-4 No. 4 and bogeyed the next.

Avaricio birdied the seventh for the second straight day and reclaimed the top spot with those string of birdies to launch her backside drive, only to stumble at the finish for a 38-35 and a 143 in a tie with amateur Mafy Singson.

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She also rued her shaky driving but hoped to regain her rhythm in the last 18 holes and get back on the winning track in the fifth leg of the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.

“I struggled with my driving and failed to get up-and-down on most holes,” said Avaricio, who scored back-to-back wins at Hallow Ridge and Caliraya before getting foiled by Chihiro Ikeda at Mount Malarayat two weeks ago.

“I have to make sure my drives are good and if not, hopefully I could make my up-and-down game,” added Avaricio.

Baraquiel is also putting premium on driving, which she believes would give her better option to attack the greens.

“I need to keep the ball in play and leave myself in position so I can be aggressive on some holes,” said Baraquiel.

Singson, tied with Baraquiel at second just a stroke off Avaricio after 18 holes, fell behind with bogeys in the first three holes but the reigning national stroke play champion and member of the team that took the bronze in the recent SEA Games in Vietnam battled back with three birdies in a five-hole stretch from No. 11, finishing with a gutsy 72 and well within a shot of a first victory in the pros after winning four low amateur honors last year.

Reigning Order of Merit champion Harmie Constantino likewise stayed in the hunt despite a 73, her 145 total leaving her just three strokes off Baraquiel in a final round shootout tipped to go down to the last shot or putt.

Pamela Mariano pooled a 148 after a second 74 while Florence Bisera and Ikeda remained tied at 150 after a pair of 75s in the P750,000 event put up by ICTSI. Bisera reeled back with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 while Ikeda stumbled with a double bogey on No. 18.

Apple Fudolin struggled with a 77 for a 152, Gretchen Villacencio matched par 72 after a 71 for a 153, and Saray Ababa carded a 76 to tie Marvi Monsalve, who skied to a 78, at 156.

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