Ardina barges into Top 10 with second 70
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - February 15, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Dottie Ardina defied tough, windy conditions with solid driving and superb iron game, matching her opening round three-under 70 yesterday and moving to joint eighth halfway through the Women’s Australian Open now co-shared by Jodi Shadoff of England and Korean Inbee Park in Adelaide, South Australia.

Ardina sustained her birdie-birdie windup at the front of the par-73 Royal Adelaide Golf Club Thursday by bucking unreceptive greens, coming through with superb approach shots that set up birdie putts inside four feet on Nos. 1, 5 and 14. She two-putted for another birdie on the par-5 17th to negate her lone missed green bogey on the sixth, her 36-34 card giving her a 36-hole aggregate of 140.

Though she remained four strokes off the pace, the Canlubang pro’s consistent showing kept her in the thick of things heading to the weekend play of the $1.3 million event, the last LPGA tournament this month following the cancellation of three events in Thailand, Singapore and China due to the virus outbreak.

“It was grind today (yesterday) with 20-25 wind gusts in the afternoon wave. The greens are also getting firmer as the round goes on and they plan to make them (greens) firm for the weekend,” said the ICTSI-backed Ardina, who broke off a joint 19th ranking to join the likes of Chinese Yu Liu and Mexico’s Maria Fassi, who shot identical 67s, and Americans Elizabeth Szokol and Yealimi Noh, Koreans So Yeon Ryu and Mi Hyang Lee and South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai, who all fired 69s, at eighth.

Park, meantime, took advantage of a switch in tee-time and turned in a bogey-free 68 in calm conditions in early morning play, catching Shadoff at the helm at 136 for a one-shot lead over Jillian Hollis of the US, who also carded a solid 69 for a 137.

Shadoff, who sizzled with seven birdies in a lead-grabbing 66 in the first round, hit five more yesterday but stumbled with two bogeys as she settled for a 70.

Korean Ayean Cho shot a second 69 and Marina Alex of the US made a 70 for joint fourth at 138 while Celine Boutier of France and Swede Madelene Sagstrom shot 69 and 70, respectively, for 139s, guaranteeing a shootout in the last 36 holes of the fourth leg of the 2020 LPGA Tour.

Yuka Saso, hard-pressed to make up for her opening 75, birdied two of the last four holes to save a 71 and barely made the cut at 146, 10 strokes off the joint leaders.

Multi-titled Jeongeun Lee, who trailed Shadoff by just one after 18 holes, struggled all day, making three bogeys against two birdies for a 74 and slipping from second to joint 21st at 141, now five shots behind Park and Shadoff.

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