Superal storms ahead, Philippines fights back in team race 

The Philippine Star
Superal storms ahead, Philippines fights back in team race 
Princess Superal.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Princess Superal moved in the threshold of a career breakthrough when she drove past world No. 4 Lydia Ko and erstwhile leader and former world No. 1 So Yeon Ryu with a plucky 71 yesterday and a resilient Pauline del Rosario got back into the scoring act, fired a 70 and helped put the Philippines in the hunt in the second round of the Asia Pacific Cup in Jakarta.

Notwithstanding the Pinay aces’ flubbed birdie chances on the closing par-5 hole, the Philippines moved into strong contention in team play with a second straight 141 for a six-under 282 total, rallying from nine down to within three as Team Korea 2 slowed down with a 147 for a 279 and Team Korea 1 battled back with a 138 to seize solo second at 281.

In a day when the only constant thing at the wind-raked Pondok Indah Golf Course was change, the lead kept on shifting from one side to the other both in individual and team competitions, setting the stage for a wild finish to the inaugural 54-hole championship which stakes a whopping $500,000 total prize in team play.

But Superal is all focused on what could be a record $100,000 top prize in individual race with the diminutive but talented shotmaker putting herself on top of the elite field that features a couple of multi-major winners who are in the current world Top 10 rankings with a big bounce back from a frontside 37 with two birdies in the last six to salvage a 71.

That included a brilliant putt from outside the green on No. 13 that tied her with Ko for the lead and a long bending stroke on the 16th that got her past the Kiwi ace, who fumbled with an unlikely bogey from just about two feet on No. 15 in a flight ahead.

“While I made more putts today (yesterday) than in the first round, I hit some pretty good iron shots and a lot of greens,” said Superal, who finished with 29 putts, five more than in her opening solid 66.

While her recent campaign in the Thailand Ladies PGA and Thailand Women’s PGA has been marred by late-round meltdowns, including a playoff loss and a slide outside of the Top 10 after leading the way, long-time swing coach and mentor Bong Lopez believes his multi-titled ward is ready for her biggest test.

“Cess has been waiting for this kind of a chance, eager to prove her worth against some of the world’s best players. I believe she’ll hold up, she has trained hard for this,” said Lopez.

The ICTSI-backed aces will take on Ko and Momoka Kobori of New Zealand in the final group with the two Korean teams battling it out in a flight ahead.

“We’ll just do what we have been doing in the first two days and hopefully, we’ll be able to shoot under-par again, so we’ll have a chance (to win),” added Superal, whose partnership with del Rosario dates back to their amateur days, the last in the Queen Sirikit Cup in Korea in 2016.

Counting her bogey-free 66 Thursday, the 25-year-old Superal, who won here in the 2015 edition of the Pondok Indah Junior Championship, assembled a 137, now one stroke ahead of Ko, who salvaged a 72 in soft, blustery conditions after matching the former’s opening six-under card, for a 138.

But Korea 2 Bomee Lee also pulled to within 138 also after a 72 while world No. 8 Kim Hyo Joo of Korea 1 turned in the day’s best 68 to join Ryu, who fumbled with a 75 after a sterling 65, at 140 with Hwang You Min of Korea 1 pooling a 141 after a 70 to make it a crowded leaderboard.

Meanwhile, del Rosario powered up and came through with a three-birdie, one-bogey card as the Epson Tour campaigner improved to joint 12th with a 145, eight strokes behind Superal but good enough to help bolster the Philippines’ bid in team competitions.

Superal and del Rosario both three-putted the par-5 ninth hole, miscues that marred the former’s par-game and stymied the latter’s two-under par start after eight holes in challenging conditions made more daunting by the presence of the winds, forcing majority of the contenders to adjust on club selections while leaving some short on their approach shots.

But Superal regained her touch at the back, sinking that birdie putt from outside the green on No. 13 and drilling a monster stroke from the long range on No. 16. She also rescued a couple of pars after going out of regulation on Nos. 15 and 17 but missed the chance to sit on a two-shot cushion with a muffed putt from 12 feet on the 18th, which she birdied from three feet in the first round.

Del Rosario also holed in a massive putt for par on No. 13 then birdied the par-5 14th but missed a couple of chances in the last four, including a three-footer on the 18th that swerved to the right of the cup.


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