Chihiro Ikeda cashed in on calm conditions to card a one-under 71 then pounced on Cyna Rodriguez’s shaky finish to open a two-stroke lead over Sarah Ababa and Korean amateur Hwang Min Jeong at the start of the ICTSI Sherwood Ladies Championship at Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Cavite Tuesday.
Ikeda, a former amateur hotshot still in search of a breakthrough win on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, actually blew a two-under card after eight holes with back-to-back bogeys linking both nines. But the former SEA Games gold medalist birdied the par-3 16th to turn in the lone under-par round and upstage Rodriguez, who hobbled with a 76, in the featured threesome.
Rodriguez, seeking a follow-up to her six-shot romp at ICTSI Riviera last month, matched Ikeda’s birdie on the par-5 No. 4 but fell back with bogeys on Nos. 6 and 7. She birdied No. 8 but dropped another stroke on the ninth and reeled back with two more bogeys on Nos. 11 and 12.
Recovering her form, the reigning two-time Order of Merit champion birdied the par-5 15th, only to flounder at the finish with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 18 for that four-over card in a tie with Thai ace Amolkan Phalajivin and Korean Kim So Un.
Ababa, who finished second at Riviera, birdied Nos. 7 and 8 to put in a 35 at the turn in a flight ahead of Ikeda’s and momentarily seized the lead with another birdie on the par-3 11th. But she fumbled with three straight bogeys rom No. 15 and ended up with a 73, dropping to joint second with Hwang, who also wavered in the tough finishing holes of Sherwood.
Hwang, joint fourth with absentee Jayvie Agojo at Riviera, put herself back into contention after a 37 with birdies on Nos. 14 and 15 but bogeyed the next two.
Apple Fudolin fought back with a 36 at the back to card a 74 for solo fourth while Anya Tanpinco bogeyed No. 14 and dropped two strokes on the 18th for a 75.
Phalajivin, back in the local circuit after skipping the Riviera leg, rammed in a birdie to open her campaign but failed to come up with another the rest of the way, missing a couple of chances from close range. Worse, she stumbled with three bogeys and made a double-bogey on the par-4 No. 5 to drop to joint sixth with Rodriguez.
Kim, eighth placer at Riviera, matched Phalajivin’s opening hole birdie and like the Thai ace, never got the chance to drill in another one while fumbling with five bogeys.
American Cristina Corpus stayed in the mix with a gutsy 37 at the front but lost her touch with a fat closing 40, slipping to ninth with a 77, a stroke ahead of Korean amateur Koh Eu Na an local amateur Felicia Medalla.