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RP ladies struggle in Sirikit Cup

Chihiro Ikeda

MANILA, Philippines - Chihiro Ikeda and Irina Gabasa carded identical four-over par 76s as the Philippines fell 11 strokes behind New Zealand at 152 at the start of the 32nd Queen Sirikit Cup at the Hamilton Golf Club in New Zealand Wednesday.

Ikeda, the top ICTSI shotmaker, and Gabasa, a promising find from Cebu, groped for form at the challenging layout and struggled on its sleek putting surface, failing to steer Team RP to a respectable start in the 12-team competition spread over 54 holes.

Lovelynn Guioguio, who like Ikeda and Gabasa had a three-over par card after 13 holes, dropped three more strokes in the last five holes for a 78 and didn’t count in the three-to-play, two-to-count format event.

The Kiwis flashed their familiarity with the layout and assembled a three-under 141 to post a one-shot lead over defending three-time champion South Korea and Thailand, which both had 142s.

Australia had a 145 followed by Singapore (147), Japan (149), China (150), Chinese Taipei (151) and the Philippines, whose campaign is sanctioned by the Women’s Golf Association of the Phils. and sponsored by ICTSI, at ninth.

Hong Kong pooled a 153 while India and Malaysia had 159 and 160, respectively.

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Zoe Brake, 18, fired a three under 69, while 15-year-old Cecilia Cho matched par 72 for New Zealand’s 141 as 12-year-old Lydia Ko failed to count with a 76.

Brake also posted a one-shot lead over Thailand’s Yupaporn Kawinpakorn, who Ikeda beat in a playoff for the SEA Games gold in Laos last December. The Thai ace had a 70 and teammate Jaruporn Ayutthaya made a 72.

Ikeda and Gabasa were in joint 17th with seven others at 76 with the duo expected to settle down in the second round and bounce back with solid games to at least put the team back in contention for a top 5 finish heading into the final round Friday.

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