Guioguio wrests 3-shot lead with 70

Lovelynn Guioguio charged home with late birdies to shoot a two-under 70 in driving rains yesterday and emerge the surprise leader by three at the start of the second leg of the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour at the North course of the Canlubang Golf and Country Club in Laguna.

Guioguio, last year’s Philippine Amateur Open champion, actually seized control early with a birdie on No. 2 and held sway with clutch pars before pulling away from the field with back-to-back birdies from No. 16 to negate her lone bogey mishap on No. 13.

Her 35-35 card put her three shots clear off fancied Dottie Ardina and amateurs Princess Superal, who finished 1-2 in last month’s kickoff leg of the first-ever ladies pro circuit sponsored by ICTSI at The Country Club.

The duo, tipped to slug it out for the crown again this week along with the comebacking Chihiro Ikeda, turned in identical 73s while Jayvie Agojo birdied the last hole to salvage a two-over 74 in a tie with amateur Bernice Olivares-Ilas.

“I was just lucky today. My driving is quite okay and my good short game compensated for my poor iron shots,” said Guioguio, one of the former mainstays of the ICTSI amateur team.

Sam Bruce, another amateur, missed seizing solo second with double-bogeys in the last two holes, dropping to 76 with Barsy Leonen while Ikeda, back on the local golf scene after a year-long campaign in Japan, never recovered from a poor start of 40 and hobbled with a 77.

Other five-over scorers were Anya Tanpinco, Sarah Jane Ababa, Apple Fudolin and amateur Harmie Constantino.

Mary Grace Estuesta, the former Philippine Ladies Open champion, made a run of pars in her last seven holes to finish with a 78 in a tie with amateur Pauline del Rosario of Team ICTSI while Lucy Landicho struggled with a 79 in a tie with amateurs Mika Fortuna and Nikki Bruce, who humbled the pros by topping the recent LPGT qualifier of the inaugural five-leg circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

Out to improve on her joint sixth place finish in the first leg of the circuit backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports, Gatorade, Sharp and Custom Clubmakers, Guioguio played steady all throughout, birdying the par-5 second and making 14 pars before hitting two birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to complete an impressive start.

Ardina, who rallied with a flawless seven-under 65 at the tough TCC layout to nip Superal by one, struggled with her putting all day, the surface made tougher by the afternoon downpour. The former Junior World champion was two over after 12 holes but gunned down birdies on Nos. 13 and 15 before dropping a stroke on the par-5 17th.

“The greens are tough to read and I couldn’t putt,” rued Ardina, who, however, vowed to rebound in today’s second round.

Superal, the reigning Singapore Amateur Open champion, is also expected to bounce back after a so-so one-birdie, two-bogey stint. She actually muffed a couple of birdie opportunities at the back, which she all parred for a 37-36 card.

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