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LPGT: Mikha Fortuna forges standoff in Davao on Yvon Bisera’s last-hole miscue

Mikha Fortuna engaged in a fierce frontside duel with Yvon Bisera, matching each other shot-for-shot and putt-for-putt during the first nine holes in the ICTSI South Pacific Classic in Davao on Thursday.

However, Fortuna stumbled a bit on the back nine but managed to salvage a 71, resulting in a tie with Bisera after 36 holes.

Fortuna mirrored Bisera’s three-birdie performance on the front nine, remaining just one stroke behind her rival. Despite falling two strokes behind after a bogey on the 10th hole, Fortuna eventually caught up with Bisera.

Both ended with a total score of 143. Bisera concluded her round with a bogey on the long par-5 18th, finishing with a 72.

This sets the stage for a final 18-hole showdown for the top prize of P125,000 between two players vying for their first Ladies Philippine Golf Tour victory. Sarah Ababa, a one-time winner, trailed behind by three shots at 146 after carding a second-round 73 at the South Pacific Golf & Leisure Estates.

“Seeing how Yvon and Sarah play, I think I have a big chance to get the title,” Fortuna remarked, although she remained cautious and not overly confident.

“The goal is to win this week, but I’m not thinking about it. I just have to stick to my game plan.”

Bisera also expressed optimism about her chances, particularly due to her solid driving game that consistently found its targets in the first two days. “I think my edge is in my driving; it’s pretty steady, and I’ve been hitting the fairways the past two days,” she said in Filipino. “I just hope to sustain my long game and for my putting to click.”

While acknowledging the mounting pressure to perform well at home, Bisera emphasized her focus on playing her game, hitting fairways and greens, and avoiding three-putts.

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The tournament’s outcome is likely to be decided by South Pacific’s challenging terrain, with its sloping surfaces and tough pin placements continuing to challenge the rest of the field.

Other players in contention include Korean Seoyun Kim and Apple Fudolin, who carded scores of 73 and 74, respectively, to share fourth place at 148. Daniella Uy, a back-to-back winner at Forest Hills and Del Monte, remains six strokes off the leaders at 149 in sixth place.

Pamela Mariano turned in a 74 for a total score of 150, while Luisita and Villamor legs winner Harmie Constantino posted a 75 following her previous 76, totaling 151. Amateur Mafy Singson, who dominated the Valley stop, carded a 74 for a joint ninth-place score of 154 with Gretchen Villacencio, who recorded a 76.

All eyes will be on the Bisera-Fortuna face-off, with both players aiming to build momentum and apply pressure to each other, especially during the first nine holes.

“I like playing on the front side. For me, the back nine is tougher because there are crucial holes where bogeys can happen,” Bisera added, mentioning her missed birdie opportunities in the first three holes, including a three-foot putt on No. 1.

After posting a solid 33 on the front nine for the second consecutive round, Bisera encountered bogeys on Nos. 13 and 14, ultimately failing to maintain her lead with another error on the last hole.

Fortuna stressed, “I think approach shots and putting are the key. I just have to put the ball in good spots and see what happens.” She also highlighted that this tournament, organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and supported by PGTI’s official apparel Kampfortis Golf, is part of her preparation for her upcoming campaign in Japan.

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“If I win, it would be great. I will be qualifying for Japan next week, and it would provide good momentum for me,” said Fortuna, who competed in 11 events during her senior year at Oklahoma University.

Despite trailing Bisera by one stroke after 18 holes in scorching conditions on Tuesday, Fortuna maintained her position with a pair of solid three-under cards. However, she slipped by two strokes with a bogey on the 10th hole but managed to trade bogeys with Bisera on No. 13.

She finished the round with pars on the remaining holes.

“It would be nice to win, but I’m not going to think about that. If it happens, it happens,” Fortuna concluded.

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