Denied of a three-peat bid at Mount Malarayat, Chanelle Avaricio looked to make another title run on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, firing a solid two-under 70 and wresting a one-shot lead over Sunshine Baraquiel and amateur Mafy Singson in the ICTSI Splendido Taal Challenge in Laurel, Batangas, Tuesday.
Putting a premium on driving and ball control on the softened Splendido Taal Golf Club layout, the Hallow Ridge and Caliraya legs winner snapped a par-game with a birdie on No. 7 then hit two solid shots on the closing par-4 hole and drilled in a six-footer to complete a pair of 35s.
That proved to be the best as Baraquiel struggled on the unpredictable surface after hitting all greens and Singson went on a roller-coaster ride after an eagle on the par-5 second.
“I played steady with two birdies and no bogeys,” said Avaricio, who lost by three to Chihiro Ikeda in the ICTSI Mount Malarayat leg in Lipa City, Batangas two weeks ago.
“It’s the same thing for tomorrow, work on positioning and hope the putts would drop,” she added.
Baraquiel also had a tough time wrestling with her putter, ending up with 36 putts for a four-birdie against one double bogey and a bogey card, and a 38-33.
“I hit all 18 greens, an achievement for me. But my putting needs some work,” said the Midlands leg winner last year. “Basically, I need to focus on my numbers, hit the fairways and greens and hope to hole in more putts.”
Singson, member of the team that snatched the bronze in the just-concluded SEA Games in Vietnam, was all poised for a strong start after hitting a solid drive on the par-5 second hole then hacking her second shot from 190 yards to within five feet for eagle.
But the many-time low amateur winner went on an up-and-down round the rest of the way, draining four birdies but fumbling with three bogeys and a double bogey on the par-3 No. 9.
“I made a few birdies and an eagle but had quite a few bogeys as well,” said Singson of Team ICTSI, who hopes to play with more consistency in the last 36 holes to earn another crack at the pro crown.
Ikeda, who endured a wrist injury to snap a three-year title spell at Mount Malarayat, blew a a frontside 35 with four bogeys in the last six holes as she slipped to joint sixth with Florence Bisera and Apple Fudolin at 75, four strokes off Avaricio.
Reigning Order of Merit champion Harmie Constantino also squandered a one-under card after nine holes with a double bogey on No. 14 but regained a stroke on No. 16 to salvage a 72 for fourth with Pamela Mariano carding a 74 on four birdies against six bogeys.
Brand-new pro Martina Miñoza groped for a 78 for joint ninth with Marvi Monsalve while former leg winner Sarah Ababa skied to an 80 in the fifth leg of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.