Cyna eyes No. 3 as LPGT Malarayat unwraps

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LIPA, Batangas – Cyna Rodriguez sets out as the marked player but Jayvie Agojo and Chihiro Ikeda will be in hot pursuit along with Thai Amolkan Phalajivin and Korean Seo Yon Kwon, guaranteeing a shootout right in Wednesday’s start of the ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Ladies Classic at Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club’s here.

With two victories in the first three legs of this year’s ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, including an 11-shot romp over Phalajivin at John Hay last month, Rodriguez is all fired-up to nail another win although she will be up against a compact field raring to end her domination in the circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.

Cyna Rodriguez reads the line of her putt on No. 1 during Tuesday's practice round.
Cyna Rodriguez reads the line of her putt on No. 1 during Tuesday’s practice round.

“I feel good about my chances but I need to play the course seriously. You can’t take the Mt. Lobo and Mt. Malipunyo courses for granted,” said Rodriguez of the composite layout that offers a different kind of challenge especially if the wind comes into play.

But Rodriguez, who also beat Agojo by five in the kickoff leg of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Nike, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp at Orchard last April, said putting will be the key in the fight for the top P100,000 purse in the 54-hole tournament.

“I’m sticking to my game plan of hitting the fairways and greens. But my putter has not been my friend the past week and hopefully that will change this week,” said Rodriguez who struggled to finish in the top 25 in a Taiwan tournament last week.

Rodriguez drew Kwon and amateur Angela de Villa in the 8:06 a.m. flight on No. 1, expecting an early challenge from the Korean bet, who placed fourth at Riviera and ended up seventh at John Hay.

Ikeda also saw action in Taiwan and likewise wound up in the top 25 but the former SEA Games gold medalist has put her focus on finally ending a long title drought on the country’s premier ladies golf circuit after a series of near-misses.

“I’ve been hitting the ball well and regained my confidence,” said Ikeda. “I just hope my putting will click and finally get that elusive win.”

Agojo, who beat Ikeda by three at Riviera but floundered at John Hay the following week and hobbled at distant sixth, is also upbeat of her chances, hopeful of coming up with a solid start in the 7:42 a.m. flight with Apple Fudolin and Lovelynn Guioguio.

Focus will also be on Phalajivin, who hopes to flash top form and cash in on the luck of a first timer at Malarayat.

“This is my first time to play here and I like the course. I hope to play well and really like Malarayat as a whole,” said the Thai ace, who joins Ikeda and Anya Tanpinco in the 7:54 a.m. group.

Jan Punzalan and Majorie Pulumbarit drew the first flight at 7:30 a.m. with Korean amateur Choi Yeon Hwa, while former Philippine Ladies Open champion Mary Grace Estuesta returns to action against Lucy Landicho and Sylvia Torres in the 8:18 a.m. group.

Tracy Que, Lina de Guzman and Eva Miñoza slug it out in the 8:30 a.m. flight while Heidi Chua, also a former Phl Ladies Open winner, and Sarah Ababa will be joined by amateur Vanessa Tsutsui in the 8:42 a.m. group.

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