US Open-bound Ardina 7 shots off the pace after 70

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
US Open-bound Ardina 7 shots off the pace after 70
Dottie Ardina of the Philippines reacts after putting during the final round of the 2022 LPGA Q-Series - Dothan at Highland Oaks Golf Course on December 11, 2022 in Dothan, Alabama.
Hannah Ruhoff / Getty Images / AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Dottie Ardina grappled with her irons but sizzled with her putter although her bogey-free two-under 70 could only net her a share of 38th at the start of the Champions Fore Change Invitational in New Bern, North Carolina Friday (Saturday, Manila time).

Back on the Epson Tour trail after gaining entry to this year’s US Women’s Open with a runner-up finish in the Texas qualifier last week, Ardina birdied the next two holes after opening with a regulation par at the backside of the Taberna Country Club course.

But that proved to be the best the ICTSI-backed ace could muster as she tussled with her irons the rest of the way, missing 10 greens after hitting all but two fairways. But Ardina, who lost to Jenny Coleman in sudden death in the rain-shortened IOA Classic last month, made up for her struggle with superb recoveries, rescuing a couple of pars from the bunkers and finishing with 24 putts.

Her 70, however, kept her seven strokes behind Chinese Yiyi Liu, who highlighted her explosive 63 with an eagle and eight birdies against a lone bogey and a stunning 21-putt performance as she grabbed a three-stroke lead over Aussie Cassie Porter, Jennifer Rosenberg and Bailey Shoemaker of the US, Italy’s Roberta Liti and Selena Costabile, who matched 66s.

Filipino-American Clariss Guce, on the other hand, bounced back from a shaky backside start of a bogey and a double bogey against a birdie as she closed out the frontside with a four-under card, joining Ardina’s group with two rounds left in the 54-hole, $200,000 championship.

But torrid scoring in near ideal conditions left the other Filipina bidders below the projected cutoff score with Bianca Pagdanganan rallying with two in the last five holes to salvage a 71 for joint 64th, one shot off the Top 60 and ties group.

Pauline del Rosario shot four birdies but made the same number of bogeys for tied 80th at 72 while Chanelle Avaricio hit three birdies but had six bogeys for a 75. 

Over in Japan, Fil-Am Justin delos Santos and Juvic Pagunsan made the cut but stood too far behind leader Takumi Kanaya halfway through the weather-suspended Japan Golf Tour Championship at the Shishido Hills Country Club’s West course in Ibaraki Prefecture Friday.

Delos Santos, who shot a one-under 70 Thursday, struggled in wet conditions and finished with two bogeys in a birdie-less 73 on a 32-putt showing for a provisional share of 35th at 143 while Pagunsan turned in a second straight 72 to fall to temporary joint 42nd.

Pagunsan, out to atone for his missed cut stint in the Mizuno Open, which he ruled in 2021, following a victory in the Golf Partner Pro-Am, gunned down three birdies but made three bogeys and made two scrambling pars for a pair of 36s.

Kanaya, who took charge with Ren Yonezawa after 18 holes with 64s Thursday, struggled this time with a two-birdie, two-bogey round with two holes to play in the second round, wresting a provisional one-stroke lead over Yonezawa, who had a one-over card in wet conditions after 11 holes.

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