Cyna Rodriguez went on an early birdie-binge to seize control and took a two-stroke lead over Sarah Ababa with a three-under 69 despite a backside meltdown in the second round of the ICTSI Riviera Ladies Classic at Riviera’s Couples Course in Silang, Cavite Thursday.
Flashing the form that netted her four victories on the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour last year, Rodriguez came through with a pair of three-birdie sprees at the front, the first from No. 1 wiping out Ababa’s overnight two-stroke lead and the other closing out the nine negating her back-to-back bogeys from No. 4.
With a 32 start and with Ababa and the rest failing to match her scorching start, Rodriguez took her familiar place in the circuit she has dominated although she wavered a bit at the back with two bogeys against a birdie for a 37.
Still, her 69 and a 139 put her two strokes ahead of Ababa, who stunned Rodriguez and the field with a bogey-free 68 Wednesday but went birdie-less yesterday and dropped to second at 141 after a 73.
With Lovelynn Guioguio also turning in a 73 and falling 10 strokes off the pace at 149 for third, the battle for the top P100,000 in the 54-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI is virtually reduced to a two-player affair with Rodriguez tipped to finally nail her first victory in the season after four tries.
Korean amateur Eu Na Koh stood at fourth at 150 despite a 78 as last year’s champion Jayvie Agojo, who had a decent 72 start, also failed to land a birdie in a bogey-marred 79 that all but dropped her from the title race.
She pooled a 151 and slid to a tie with another Korean amateur Min Jeong Hwang, who rebounded with a 73 while Anya Tanpinco shot a 75 for a 152.
Chihiro Ikeda blew a two-under card after three holes with a slew of bogeys and a double bogey, finishing with a 76 for a 153 while Eva Minoza carded a 76 to tie Cristina Corpus (79) of the US, Korean Kim So Un (78), Apple Fudolin (80) and local amateur Annika Cedo (80) at 156.
Hard-pressed to deliver after dropping a playoff setback to amateur Princess Superal at ICTSI Wack Wack Invitational last month, Rodriguez sprayed the Riviera layout with three straight birdies from No. 1, moving two-up from two-down as Ababa bogeyed the third hole.
But Rodriguez bogeyed the next two on missed greens, enabling Ababa, who parred the rest of the holes, to tie again. But after a regulation par on the par-3 No. 6, the reigning back-to-back ICTSI LPGT Order of Merit champion strung up three straight birdies again, this time from No. 7 to storm ahead.
She actually went five-under with another birdie on No. 12 but fell back with bogeys on Nos. 13 and 15 for that 37 and 69.