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Miya Legaspi sizzled with a four-under 67 while fellow Asian Gamer Pauline del Rosario backed her up with a 69 as the Philippines pooled a 136 and took a three-stroke lead over Thailand at the start of the Santi Cup of the 54th South East Asian Amateur Golf Team Championship in Brunei late Monday.

Legaspi turned in one of her strongest starts in international play, putting in a three-under card at the turn then adding three more at the back, including a closing birdie, to negate her bogeys on Nos. 13 and 16 and finish with a 33-34 card at the par-71 Empire Hotel and Country Club course.

Del Rosario, winner of the Long Beach Championship early this year and last week’s Canlubang Amateur Open, hit four birdies at the front, highlighted by a 30-foot putt on No. 8, against a bogey then parred the last nine holes for that 69.

Princess Superal, however, struggled all day and hobbled with a 76 as the reigning US Girls Juniors champion and Team ICTSI spearhead didn’t count in the three-to-play, two-to-count format event dominated by the Thais the last six years.

But with Legaspi and Del Rosario proving up to task, the Philippines set in motion its bid for a breakthrough win as Thailand put in a 139 on Suvathee Chanachai’s 69 and Parinda Phokan’s 70.

Singapore stood two strokes farther back at 141 as Koh Sock Hwee matched Legaspi’s scorching 67 and Amanda Tan added a 74.

But while Legaspi and company put on a strong start, the defending champion Philippine men’s team faltered with a 224 and dropped to fourth, 17 strokes behind Thailand in the centerpiece Putra Cup competition.

Kristoffer Arevalo had a 74 and Justin Quiban and Rupert Zaragoza each shot a 75 a 224.

Thailand assembled a 207 to open a four-stroke lead over Malaysia, which shot a 211, while Singapore scored a 212.

Thailand also paced the eighth Lion City Cup with 144 as Suradit Yongcharoenchai fired a 70 and Ekthimrong Luangnuruk added a 74.

But the Philippines, behind Alta Vista’s Wei Wei Gao’s 71 and Aidric Chan’s 74 stayed just behind at 145 with Indonesia another shot behind at 146. Gao and Chan are products of the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines.

In the Kartini Cup, the Philippines shot a 147 and fell to third behind Thailand’s solid 134 and Indonesia’s 147.

Yuka Saso, also of Team ICTSI, fired a 70 but Harmie Constantino of Villamor struggled with a 77 while Ashia Nocum groped for form and ended up with a 79 and failed to count in her Putra Cup debut.

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