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Constantino, Singson take early lead in LPGT Riviera

SILANG, Cavite – Amateur Mafy Singson blew an early three-under card on a backside foldup but holed out with a birdie to salvage a 72 and tie Harmie Constantino at the helm at the start of the ICTSI Riviera Ladies Challenge here on Wednesday.

In a day of shifting fortunes in sweltering heat at the Couples course, Daniella Uy surged ahead in the last flight with a one-under card after 15 holes but bogeyed Nos. 16 and 17 then flubbed a birdie putt from pin-length high on the last to drop to joint third with Chanelle Avaricio and Marvi Monsalve at 73.

Chihiro Ikeda also posted a three-under card just after five holes but like the majority of the rest, she wavered on the tricky surface at the back before hitting a late birdie (No. 17) to salvage a 74 for joint sixth with Korean rookie pro Jane Jeong while another shot adrift at 75 was Florence Bisera in a tight start tipped to stretch all the way to the finish on Friday.

“My game was okay but I didn’t finish well,” said Singson, who had had close brushes with a first pro title in the last two legs at Eagle Ridge-Aoki and Highlands but faltered in the stretch on both occasions. “The greens are tricky and weren’t able to save par (at the back).”

The 18-year-old rising star rattled off three straight birdies from No. 5 after a birdie-bogey game from No. 2. But she bogeyed three of the first four holes at the back, dropped another stroke on the 17th before birdying the 18th for a 33-39.

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Constantino, who made it two-in-row at Aoki early this month but struggled to finish fourth in Tagaytay Highlands two weeks ago, came out of a two-birdie, two three-putt bogey game at the front with a birdie on No. 14 to seize control. But the former national champion bogeyed the 17th, also on a three-putt miscue, for a pair of 36s, enabling Singson to draw level and a host of others to stay within striking distance heading to the last 36 holes of the P750,000 championship put up by ICTSI and held under the bubble setup.

“I played pretty steady but had 3 three-putts,” said Constantino, who had actually been working on her putting stroke during the break.

Like the rest, she insisted she has no expectations this week, saying: “I’ll just take the night off, get some rest and get ready for tomorrow.”

Uy was all set to take the first-day honors with two birdies after 15 holes but the former Junior World champion still in search of her first pro win stumbled at the finish.

“I was in a bad position on No. 16 and three-putted the next,” she rued.

Monsalve came away with six birdies in the heat but made four bogeys and tumbled with a thud with a triple-bogey mishap on the par-5 11th. But her 73 proved one of her best starts in years which she hopes to build on for a clear title crack in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

Ikeda turned in the best start of three birdies in the first five holes but fumbled with two double bogeys (Nos. 9 and 17) and made two bogeys against a birdie on the 17th.

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Sunshine Baraquiel came out steady after a breakthrough win at Highlands as she parred the first nine holes, only to hobble at the back, yielding strokes on Nos. 10, 12, 13, and 16 with no birdie to show. She fell to a share of ninth with Pamela Mariano with 76, four strokes off the joint leaders.

Meanwhile, Singson’s fine start likewise put her on track for a third straight low amateur honors as Laurea Duque groped for a 77, Anna Fernandez and Eagle Ace Superal limped with a pair of 78s and Arnie Taguines skied to an 80.

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