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Baraquiel shines on late assault, leads by 2 in ICTSI Highlands

TAGAYTAY – Sunshine Baraquiel, whose wobbly windup cost her the first day honors Tuesday, sizzled at the finish this time, birdying two of the last four holes to salvage a two-over 72 and surge ahead by two in the second round of the ICTSI Tagaytay Highlands Ladies Challenge here, Wednesday.

It was in stark contrast to her meltdown in the first round that saw her bogey two of the last three and yield the lead to amateur Mafy Singson with a 77. The 30-year-old, back on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour after completing flying lessons in the US, actually tied for the lead with a birdie on the first hole but fell with a thud with a dismal five-bogey slide from No. 2, the last a three-putt miscue.

She, however, didn’t stray too far behind with a run of pars until she made her move with a birdie on No. 15 then stormed upfront with another feat on the last hole for a 38-34 and a 36-hole aggregate of nine-over 149.

“I made a long putt for birdie on No. 1 then I don’t know how I blew it and I ended up having five bogeys in a row,” said Baraquiel. “I got mad but I told myself to ‘wake up’ and ‘start fresh.’ After that I shot two-under.”

Chihiro Ikeda also produced a 72 in another topsy-turvy day at the exacting Highlands course as she poised herself to ending a two-year title spell with a 151, the same output put in by Daniella Uy, who dropped three strokes in the first two holes but parred the last 12 to save a 73 and nurture hopes of ending a long title drought.

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Singson birdied the last hole to check an impending skid and post a second 76 but the top amateur dropped from second to fourth with a 152, just three strokes adrift of Baraquiel while Harmie Constantino blew a gutsy even-par 34 start with a backside 42 marred by two double bogeys and a couple of bogeys.

The Eagle Ridge-Aoki leg winner ended up with a six-over 76 and tumbled to fifth with a 153 while Chanelle Avaricio bounced back with a 75 after an 81 but lay seven strokes off the pace with a 156 in a tie with Lovelyn Guioguio, who rallied with a 73.

Amateurs Burberry Zhang and Laurea Duque posted identical 157s after a 77 and 80, respectively, while Korean pro Jane Jeong skied to an 81 for a 158.

Baraquiel credited her driving and approach shots for her surge and added her putting and short game, which has been missing the majority of her campaign, clicked when they mattered most.

“My putting and short game, which I said needed some work, worked for me in the end,” added Baraquiel, now 18 holes away from nailing a breakthrough in the circuit put up by ICTSI.

“I just have to keep the ball in play, and hopefully, my driving gets better tomorrow,” said Baraquiel, adding that club selection will also be key to her title drive given the tough wind condition.

Ikeda actually posted the first nine-over overall total with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 but slipped off a share of the lead with a double-bogey on the par-4 18th after hitting an errant drive to the rough. Her approach landed behind a pine tree near the green and she needed to play out then two-putted for 6.

“My game was better than yesterday,”
said Ikeda, who last won via playoff over Pauline del Rosario at Midlands in 2019. “I birdied the 15th from six feet and made a long putt on the next.”

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