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Mafy Singson snares LPGT Highlands lead in brutal conditions


TAGAYTAY – Mafy Singson sparkled in fog and wind, grabbing the lead in the ICTSI Tagaytay Highlands Ladies Challenge despite a six-over 76 in a wild start under near-extreme wind conditions at Highlands where bogeys proved as norm and birdies a rarity here on Tuesday.

The talented amateur actually had no inkling of reprising the role she had played in last week’s ICTSI Aoki Classic at Eagle Ridge but late-hole mishaps by erstwhile frontrunners Sunshine Baraquiel and Arnie Taguines enabled her to take charge again despite a birdie-less pair of 38s.

“I didn’t play so well,” said Singson, who barely lost to Harmie Constantino by one stroke last week. “The wind was really strong and I just tried to hit my ball in the fairway and tried to play with the wind.”

Baraquiel, a lady pilot, had navigated herself quite well over the par 34-36 course with severe elevation changes and held on to the lead with a five-over card after 15 holes. But she bogeyed two of the last three and wound up with a 77 for joint second with Constantino, Korean Jane Jeong, and another amateur Laurea Duque.

The organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. had to push back the start by an hour due to rain and fog that rendered the course unplayable with Taguines seizing early control with a two-birdie, two-bogey card at the front.

But the wind condition turned virtually ruthless at the back, sending the scores soaring and the players tumbling and leaving Baraquiel, in pursuit of a maiden win, at the top as baffled as the rest of the field in the 54-hole championship put up by ICTSI.

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But those late bogeys paved the way for Singson’s surge although Constantino, out of the picture with an atrocious 37-40 marred by two double bogeys and without a birdie in one of the earlier flights, suddenly got back into the thick of things.

Duque, who also placed second to Singson in the first 18 holes at Aoki, likewise stayed in early contention despite yielding four straight strokes from No. 13. She holed out with another bogey on No. 18 for a 37-40, also blemished by two early double bogeys against two birdies.

“I didn’t really hit my best but I managed to hold my score in the early going,” said Duque. “The course is playing tough for everyone so anything can happen.”

Jeong also found herself in the mix in her first tournament as a pro despite bogeys on No. 16-17 as she gunned down two birdies against five more bogeys and a double bogey.

With high scores, the rest practically remained in the race with Daniella Uy at solo sixth with a 78, just two strokes behind Singson, and Chihiro Ikeda and Apple Fudolin submitting identical 79s.

Taguines, jumping into the fray after skipping last week’s ICTSI Aoki Classic at Eagle Ridge for back therapy treatment, assumed control after six holes with two bogeys against two birdies in the last flight with Baraquiel and Gretchen Villacencio. But the winner at Eagle Ridge-Norman leg last July never recovered from a double-bogey-bogey-double-bogey misfortune from No. 10.

She actually stayed within striking distance of Baraquiel and Singson but bogeyed No. 15, yielded two strokes on the next and holed out with another bogey for a 34-45 to join Ikeda and Fudolin at seventh.

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Burberry Zhang, another amateur in the fold, limped with an 80 but lay just four strokes off the pace while Chanelle Avaricio, who had hoped to keep things going after scoring a hole-in-one during Monday’s practice round, groped for an 81 but stood just five shots adrift of Singson.

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