Iloilo—Daniella Uy, who couldn’t seem to get her long game going at the tight Marapara layout last week, flourished off the mound at the Iloilo Golf and Country Club, blasting a three-under 67 and moving ahead by three over Harmie Constantino and top amateur Rianne Malixi after 18 holes of the ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge presented by MORE Power here yesterday.
Uy worked on her 270-yard driving clip all day and complemented her superb driving with iron shots that set up birdie opportunities, finishing with four, the last on No. 18 that negated her lone mishap on the par-3 16th. With Malixi reeling with back-to-back bogeys from No. 15 and settling for a 70, the former Junior World champion opened a cushion she hoped would be enough to spike a second Ladies Philippine Golf Tour win.
“I missed three fairways and three greens. Yes, there are some reachable (par-4) holes, so it really helps kung malakas ka mag-drive,” said Uy, who ended up fifth in last week’s ICTSI Negros Occidental Golf Classic topped by Chanelle Avaricio in big fashion.
“I was hitting it better today compared to last week and I was putting really well,” said Uy, who claimed her first LPGT win at Riviera-Langer in 2021. “But I wasn’t really expecting anything. I just want to hit the fairways and greens, and my goal is to stay calm and not get too emotional on the course.”
Malixi, also out to redeem herself from a mediocre stint at Marapara where she tied for third with Pamela Mariano, kept Uy within sight in a marquee matchup with Avaricio, shooting four birdies against two bogeys after 14 holes in hot conditions.
But the current toast of amateur golf wobbled and failed to rescue pars on Nos. 15 and 16, ending up with a pair of 35s to slip to joint second with Constantino, who rebounded from a two-bogey frontside game with three birdies in the first four holes at the back.
But the inaugural ICTSI Match Play champion yielded strokes on the next two holes before birdying the 16th for a 38-32.
“I think I’m playing better this week. I kind of fixed my driving and irons also. Just need to be less aggressive when attacking the flags,” said Constantino, who launched her pro career with two victories in bubble setup in 2021. “But I have to play better numbers this week.”
Sarah Ababa, out to atone for her final round meltdown at Marapara, also appeared headed for another good start the way she did at Marapara before fading in the clutch. She birdied No. 5 but struggled the rest of the way, finishing with three bogeys for a 72.
Sunshine Baraquiel also cracked in a frontside finish, bogeying No. 7 and dropping two strokes on the next and missed joining Constantino and Malixi at second.
The lady pilot, who nailed her first LPGT win at Tagaytay Highlands in harsh conditions, instead fell to joint fifth at 73 with Florence Bisera, who birdied Nos. 16 and 17 to salvage a 41-32 round.
Amateur Mafy Singson also birdied the 18th to save a 74 for seventh while Laurea Duque, the other amateur in the compact field, bogeyed three of her last seven holes and wound up with a 75 for joint eighth with Mariano while Marvi Monsalve hobbled with a 76.
Avaricio, who came into the event oozing with confidence after completing an improbable rally from eight shots down to win at Marapara, failed to recover from a double bogey on the first hole. She hit two birdies but made three bogeys and another couple of 6s to tumble to joint 11th with Chihiro Ikeda at 77, 10 strokes off Uy.