LIPA CITY, Batangas, Philippines – Jayvie Agojo put on a strong start against a strong field to seize control with a three-under 69, pouncing on a fading Michelle Koh of Malaysia to snatch a one-stroke lead at the start of the Champion Infinity Philippine Ladies Open 2013 at the Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club here yesterday.
Agojo, chasing her second Phl Ladies crown since humbling a talent-laden foreign field at the Manila Golf Club in 2005, waxed hot on a cool, breezy day with five birdies against two bogeys at the Mt. Lobo nine, then played steady at the tougher Mt. Makulot side with an even 36 to get past Koh and Thai Supamas Sangchan.
“Save for a couple of missed birdie putts, I had a fine round but it’s just a one-shot lead and the best players are behind me, so it will be tough in the next two days,” said Agojo, the reigning Santi Cup champion of the ICTSI-The Country Club squad.
Truly, a battle royale shaped up with a slew of players just a stroke or two behind on a challenging course that brings out the best – and the worst – from the field in every swirl of the wind.
Koh, one of Malaysia’s top players, found that out coming home at Mt. Makulot where she fumbled with a four-over 40 after a sizzling six-under 30 stint at Lobo, enabling Sangchan to tie her at second with a 34-36 card.
Sangchan outdueled last year’s runner-up Princess Superal in their own side of the duel, birdying the last three holes to put herself in early contention for the crown in the 54-hole championship presented by Champion Infinity, the No. 1 local brand in Northern Luzon and Visayas.
Dottie Ardina, the multi-titled spearhead of the ICTSI team chasing her first Phl Ladies Open plum, stood two strokes adrift at 71, hitting four birdies against three bogeys for joint fourth with another top Thai bet Benyapa Niphatsophon.
Sharing the spotlight was Manila Golf Club’s Isa Lorenzo, who scored a hole-in-one on No. 4 of Mt. Makulot en route to an 82. She used a Beres 6-iron and a Titleist ProV1x ball in acing the 135-yard hole.
Gaby Monfort made an 85 to post a one-shot lead over Thai Siti Zulaikhaa Binti Shaari and Inez Del Rosario in Class A while Frances Bawal and Rose Quilacio shot a pair of 92s to lead Meehah Fong and Gilda Medestomas by one in Class B.
Lovelynn Guioguio matched par 72 but Superal groped for form and hobbled with a two-over 74, needing to shoot a low round today to wheel back into contention in the event organized by Women’s Golf Association of the Phils. and sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Coca-Cola, Duty Free Phils., Pacsports with support from the Department of Tourism.
Shei Santiwiwatthanaphong of Thailand and Chanel Avaricio carded identical 73s while Clare Legaspi and Thai Suthavee Chanachai tied Superal at 74, one ahead of Annika Cedo and Cyna Rodriguez, who both had 75s.
Rodriguez, winner at Manila Southwoods three years ago, also failed to get going and stumbled with a 76 while Sarah Ababa wavered with a 78 and new ICTSI members Abegail Arevalo and Sofia Chabon turned in an 80 and 81, respectively.