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Young guns steal show in LPGT as Singson sets pace with 70


GEN. TRIAS, Cavite — Mafy Singson outshot Laurea Duque at the finish in a fierce duel of amateurs in windy conditions, coming away with a two-under 70 as the young turks upstaged the pros in the opener of the ICTSI Aoki Classic at Eagle Ridge here on Wednesday.

Singson broke a two-birdie, two-bogey round with birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 then watched flightmate Duque stumble with a bogey-birdie-bogey card from No. 15 to move from one-down to two-up after 18 holes of the event marking the restart of the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour after a three-month hiatus.

“I played pretty well. It was windy and just tried to hit it in the middle,” said Singson, who birdied Nos. 7 and 12 to negate her mishaps on Nos. 11 and 13.

She stayed in shape during the breakthrough regular practice and workout but stressed the need for consistency in anticipation of the big guns’ charge in the next two days.

“I hope to keep it up, hit the fairways and greens, and be more consistent,” added Singson.

Duque, the low amateur at Eagle Ridge-Aoki ruled by Harmie Constantino last March, bucked a bogey-bogey start with three birdies in an eight-hole stretch from No. 6 to wrest control by one over Singson after 14 holes. But her wobbly finish enabled her fellow Manila Southwoods team member to take command in the early going of the 54-hole championship put up by ICTSI.

Still, she said she was more than satisfied with her performance given the tough playing conditions.

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“My game was pretty solid. I started out with two bogeys but holed in some putts and ended up shooting even,” said Duque, who, however, opted to tone down expectations of a big finish this week.

“I just want to have fun, no expectations but I know I’m playing well,” she added.

While two of the five amateurs in the fold put up an impressive start in hot conditions, the pros struggled to come off a long break with Constantino barely surviving a day-long struggle in the sweltering heat, hitting four birdies but fumbling with five bogeys to settle for third with a 73.

The former national champion, who humbled Princess Superal by two to mark her pro debut with a victory here, missed joining Duque at second with a bogey on the par-3 No. 17 while Marvi Monsalve birdied the 16th to card a 74 for fourth, just four strokes off the leader in one of her best starts in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

“I made mistakes on a couple of holes but the conditions are really tough. It was windy out there,” said Constantino.

Monsalve, on the other hand, said she was happy to finish with a 74 in blustery conditions then vowed to put more emphasis on putting to fuel her title drive.

“It’s super windy and some of the lies were pretty bad but I hit a couple of lucky shots,” said Monsalve. “I just have to focus on putting and the speed of the greens or maybe hit it closer.”

Chihiro Ikeda stayed up-close with a three-birdie, three-bogey frontside card but the multi-titled campaigner, still winless in the extended pandemic-hit season of the country’s premier ladies circuit, limped with two bogeys and a double-bogey with no birdie to show in the last nine holes. She signed a 76 and dropped to fifth.

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Sunshine Baraquiel eagled the par-5 No. 6 but failed to hit any birdie the rest of the way, her slew of miscues – five bogeys and a double-bogey – pulling her down to joint sixth with amateur Burberry Zhang at 77, nine strokes behind Singson.

Zhang, winner of the low amateur honors at Sherwood Hills last July, took charge early with birdies on Nos. 1 and 3 but reeled back with five bogeys and a triple bogey on No. 13 then birdied the 16th to tie Baraquiel.

Daniella Uy and Chanelle Avaricio, two of the pre-tournament favorites in the absence of the Japan-bound Superal, both started out on the wrong foot with the former limping with three bogeys and three double bogeys against three birdies for a 78 and the latter, who finished runner-up to Superal at Sherwood and Eagle Ridge-Norman, groping for a 79 marred by six bogeys and a double-bogey against a lone birdie.

The duo, however, is expected to mount their fightback in the second round although it would take a lot of hard work and determination to overcome such huge deficits with Singson and Duque out to prove their worth and readiness to upstage their more experienced rivals.

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