Harmie Constantino posted a remarkable 66-round that was so surprising it transformed what had seemed like a one-player show into a wide-open race.
She tied Mikha Fortuna for the lead after 36 holes of the ICTSI Mimosa Plus Championship in Pampanga on Wednesday.
A birdie frenzy that spanned both nines of Mimosa Plus’ Acacia course resulted in a pair of 33s, propelling Constantino from a six-shot deficit at joint fourth place to a share of the lead at seven-under 137. Meanwhile, Fortuna found it much tougher after her flawless opening 65 and finished with a 72.
Daniella Uy, on the other hand, posted a second consecutive 69, finishing strong to trail the joint leaders at 138. Korean Min Yeong Kim delivered a solid 68 to secure fourth place at 139.
Sarah Ababa staged a rally with a 68 to move into fifth place at 140, while South Pacific Classic leg winner Florence Bisera, in a return to her fierce form, matched Constantino’s six-under card with a bogey-free round to tie Korean Seoyun Kim, who carded a 71, at 141.
Korean amateur Jiwon Lee, preparing for next Tuesday’s ICTSI Junior PGT national finals, recorded a second straight 71 for a total of 142. Apple Fudolin and Chihiro Ikeda combined for scores of 145 and 146 after rounds of 69 and 73, respectively.
The chase for the top prize of P120,000 in this 54-hole championship presented by ICTSI may narrow down to the top four players, as Constantino, Fortuna, and Uy gear up for what promises to be a day-long battle of power, iron play, putting, and nerves.
“The pin placements were difficult in the first two days, so it will be much harder tomorrow,” said Constantino, aiming to become the only three-leg winner in this year’s Ladies Philippine Golf Tour after winning back-to-back titles at Luisita and Villamor Philippine Masters.
“But I’m playing pretty well. Hopefully, this continues tomorrow,” she added. “I’ll stick to the same strategy – work on my game and strive to improve each day.”
Initially trailing Fortuna, Constantino broke away from a birdie-bogey pattern starting from No. 3. She mounted her charge with consecutive birdies from No. 5 and added another stroke on the par-5 No. 9.
Building on her momentum, she birdied the 10th hole and gained strokes on the next three holes to complete a five-hole birdie streak, finishing with a seven-under card. However, she missed the opportunity to claim the solo lead with a mistake on No. 17, allowing Fortuna, who was playing in the group behind her, to tie for the lead with a second consecutive birdie on No. 16.
“I tried to sink as many putts as I could. It just so happened that the putts I was making kept dropping,” said Constantino.
Despite her 72, Fortuna, who dominated the field with her first-round 65 and led Uy by four shots, believed she had a fairly steady round.
“The pin placements were tough, and I tried to remain patient. But it is what it is, one more day tomorrow (today),” said Fortuna, who continued to manage expectations of winning her first title in the country’s premier ladies’ circuit supported by Kampfortis Golf, the official apparel of the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“I have no expectations. I want to win, but I don’t dwell on it,” she added. “I don’t want to pressure myself. I just want to stay patient and avoid frustration. I’ll take it one hole at a time and try to get as many birdies as possible.”
Expect Uy to save her best for last, just as she did in winning the Forest Hills and Del Monte titles. She made her move with a three-birdie surge starting from No. 3.
Although she stumbled with bogeys on Nos. 6 and 8, she bounced back with a birdie on the ninth and recovered from another setback on No. 14 with birdies on Nos. 16 and 18.
Kim also aims to capitalize on her chances for her first LPGT victory after delivering a solid 33-35 round showcasing her superb all-around game.
“My driving and putting were solid. I really focused on them and aimed to avoid any bogeys,” said Kim.