Arevalo tows field with solid 68
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - February 19, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Tackling Manila Golf Club’s sleek putting surface for the first time, Abby Arevalo felt like she was playing at home back in the US as former standout of the San Jose State U.

“This is my first time to play this course and I’m happy to shoot a 68,” said the 20-year-old Arevalo after outclassing the Philippine Ladies Open field with the day’s lone under-par card for a huge five-stroke lead over Rianne Malixi yesterday.

The SEA Games team gold medalist flashed top form off the mound and produced a number of solid approach shots that set up birdie chances inside 12 feet, which she drilled on Nos. 5, 6 and 10 for a pair of 34s in her first official tournament at the tight, well-kept layout.

While the rest of the 70-player cast struggled on the unreceptive greens all day, the 20-year-old Arevalo banked on her familiarity with such kind of a surface to dominate the start of the 58th staging of the event sponsored by San Miguel Corp., Diamond Motors, Sunsports and Eva Air.

Arevalo is out to redeem herself from a playoff loss to the young Malixi in the National Stroke Play at Riviera last month and keep the country’s premier championship at home for the fifth straight year.

“The greens were a bit fast but I think it suits my game. It’s like playing in the US,” said the Psychology graduate and daughter of a teaching pro. “I just love the greens and I could’ve scored lower had I holed in more putts.”

The rest must’ve wished to at least keep the leader within striking distance. But with Malixi hobbling with a 73, Kiara Montebon carding a 74, Mafy Singson limping with a 75, and the likes of Eagle Ace Superal, Nicole Abelar, Sam Dizon and Laurea Duque groping with identical 76s, Arevalo could be heading to matching or surpassing Yuka Saso’s five-stroke romp over Thai Yosita Khawmuna also here last year.

Sophia Abarcas turned in a 78 while Mariel Tee, one of the other fancied names in the tournament backed by Globe, the National Golf Association of the Philippines, Copok (Seascape Village), New World Hotel, Pocari, Manila Golf Ladies, Regent Travel, Hyundai, Poten-Cee, Pascual Lab, Net25, Lake Shore CCY, Mercedes-Benz, FHLCI and Tagaytay Ladies, failed to get going and skied to a 79 in a tie with Fil-Guamanian Kristin Oberiano and Martina Miñoza.

ABBY AREVALO
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