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Superal takes lead as Del Rosario falters

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PRINCESS Superal fought back strong from an early miscue then pounced on Pauline del Rosario last-hole misfortune to turn one-stroke deficit into a one-shot lead with a 69 at the start of the ICTSI Riviera Championship at the Langer course in Silang, Cavite Tuesday.

Del Rosario outshone Superal in the featured flight that included Abby Arevalo, gunning down three birdies to storm to a two-stroke lead after first 12 holes in cloudy, windy conditions. But just when she thought she got the challenging par-71 layout all figured out, she stumbled with a bogey on the 14th, recovered the stroke on the layout’s signature hole – par-3 17th, but dropped two strokes on the tricky par-4 closing hole.

She wound up with a 70 (34-36), enabling Superal to wrest control with a 34-35, spiked by three birdies in a five-hole stretch from No. 9 which more than made up for her missed-green mishap on the sixth.

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“I actually missed a lot of greens but made some up-and-down pars, especially on a couple of long par-4s,” said Superal, on track for a sweep of the twin Ladies Philippine Golf Tour titles in new normal after romping off with a five-shot triumph over Arevalo at the adjacent Couples course three weeks ago.

Expecting a strong fightback from Del Rosario and the rest of the contenders for the top P72,000 purse in the 54-hole championship put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., Superal said: “I’ll try to go under again tomorrow (today) and make more birdies.”

Despite her last hole mishap, Del Rosario said she was more than satisfied with her round but stressed the need to work on her putting in the last two days.

“I played pretty good although I had some errors with my putting,” said Del Rosario, who marked her rookie campaign in 2017 with four victories on her way to bagging the LPGT Order of Merit crown.

Putting herself in strong contention after placing a distant third in the ICTSI Riviera Invitational Challenge, Del Rosario vowed to come up better and wiser in the last 36 holes to gain a crack at the championship.

“My plan is to correct the mistakes I had today (yesterday) and stick to what I had been working on,” said the first Filipina to win on the LPGA of Taiwan Tour, also in 2017.

TLPGA veteran and former Junior World champ Daniella Uy shot two birdies but made five bogeys for joint third at 74 with Gretchen Villacencio, five strokes behind Superal, while Chanelle Avaricio and Chihiro Ikeda struggled with a pair of 75s.

Three-time OOM winner Cyna Rodriguez groped for a birdie-less 76 while Arevalo, who nipped Del Rosario with a birdie on the final hole to win here as an amateur in 2017, failed to recover from a wobbly start and ended up with a 77 in a tie with Marvi Monsalve.

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