Lubao, Pampanga—Chanelle Avaricio checked an early stumble with a big backside charge but lost her momentum at the finish, bogeying two of the last three holes to hobble with a three-over 75 but still stayed four strokes clear of Chihiro Ikeda in a topsy-turvy second round of the ICTSI Pradera Verde Ladies Classic yesterday.
Avaricio turned from near-flawless to flawed with three bogeys in the first seven holes while fighting off a bout with heartburn, enabling Ikeda to rally from seven down and threaten to within one with a three-birdie roll after six holes in another scorching day here.
But Avaricio, who posted a Tour record of eight-under 64 in a sterling start Wednesday, pounced on Ikeda’s bogey slips linking both nines of the well-maintained Pradera layout and recovered from another miscue on No. 11 with birdies on Nos. 12 and 15, only to falter with bogeys on Nos. 16 on a three-putt miscue and 18 on a failed bid off the bunker.
But that hardly mattered as Ikeda also bogeyed the 16th and ended up with a 72 while erstwhile second-running Pamela Mariano limped with a 75 marred by three bogeys in the last eight holes, enabling Avaricio to go into the final round of the P750,000 championship put up by ICTSI virtually unscathed.
With a five-under 139 total, Avaricio kept Ikeda, who pooled a 143, at bay as she moved 18 holes away from extending her impressive run of exploits on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour where she won twice and posted a couple of runner-up efforts in the last four legs.
“I struggled at the front, mostly on my to-the-green shots and unlike yesterday (Wednesday), my putts weren’t dropping,” said Avaricio, who, despite the three-over card, still zeroed in on a third championship this year after edging Princess Superal in sudden death at Hallow Ridge and repelling Ikeda by one at Caliraya Springs.
The former Alabama State U product placed second to Ikeda at Mt. Malarayat and shared runner-up honors with Sunshine Baraquiel and Harmie Constantino at Splendido Taal, won by amateur Mafy Singson.
“I think I need to work on my irons,” added Avaricio, who, however, decided to hit the range early today (Friday) due to exhaustion given the hot conditions in the first two days of the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
But Ikeda remains confident of pulling off a big comeback although she will need another strong start and a stronger finish to stop Avaricio from posting another triumph and firming up her lead for the Order of Merit title chase.
“I hope to get my driving a little bit steadier tomorrow and make the putts,” said Ikeda, putting herself back in contention despite a wrist injury that has hampered her campaign in the last few tournaments.
Sarah Ababa, seeking to end a long title spell after a breakthrough win at Sherwood Hills in 2015, shot four birdies against the same number of bogeys, her second straight 72 pulling her abreast with Mariano at 144, five strokes adrift of Avaricio.
Sunshine Baraquiel also matched par 72 but the Highlands leg winner last year stood six shots off the pace at 145 while reigning OOM champion Harmie Constantino failed to recover from a four-over card after 11 holes and finished with a 76 to drop to joint sixth at 148 with Marvi Monsalve, who carded a second 74.
Korean Jane Jeong and Martina Miñoza also fumbled with 74s to remain tied at eighth at 149 while Arnie Taguines fought back with a 74 after a 77 to move to joint 10th at 151 with Florence Bisera, who made a 76.
Taguines also led the chase for low amateur honors but Mariel Tee stood a stroke behind at 152 after a 74 for joint 12th with Gretchen Villacencio, who turned in another 76 heading to the final round of the event serving as the sixth leg of this year’s LPGT.