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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Ababa ties for lead as Uy cracks at the finish

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TARLAC—Sarah Ababa ran off a wave of backside pars after a birdie-birdie finish at the front, coming through with a 71 and forcing a tie with Daniella Uy after two rounds of the ICTSI Luisita Championship at the Luisita Golf and Country Club here yesterday.

Ababa likewise pounced in on Uy slide at the finish marred by shaky putting that saw the latter blow a two-stroke lead with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 17 for a 75 as the former caught the latter at the helm at 146 heading to the final round of the 54-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

But Korean Kim Seoyun struck back with a 70 after a 77 for a 147, setting the stage for a three-player shootout in the P750,000 event serving as the fourth leg of this year’s Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.

Daniella Uy hit 10 fairways. Manny Marcelo

Harmie Constantino, who shared the first round lead with Uy, failed to recover from a frontside 40 and finished with a 39 for a 79 that dropped her to joint fourth with Florence Bisera, who carded a 74, 150, four strokes behind the joint leaders.

“I hit more fairways and greens today (Wednesday) than yesterday (Tuesday) and I was able to read the line of some of my putts,” said Ababa in Filipino. “Mahirap ang greens, kailangan mailagay mo sa side kung saan pwede kang maka-recover (The greens are difficult, you need to put the ball on the side where you can recover).”

Ababa, whose campaign is backed by South Pacific Golf and Country Club in Davao and Happy Hotels, failed to get up-and-down on the par-3 No. 6 but recovered the stroke on the eighth before closing out her frontside stint with another birdie.

She, however, missed a couple of birdie opportunities at the back but stayed on course to ending an eight-year title spell with a run of backside pars.

In contrast, Uy hit 10 fairways and though she reached regulation 14 times, she grappled with her putting stroke, ending up with four three-putts that foiled her bid for solo control.

But the former Junior World champion remained confident of her chances for a follow-up to her breakthrough win at Riviera-Langer in 2021 while seeking redemption from her failed bid in Iloilo where she squandered a big final round lead and wound up joint fourth.

“Stay present and don’t think ahead—one hole at a time,” said Uy, referring to the lessons learned from her Iloilo meltdown.

She, however, stressed the need for her putting to click on the tricky Luisita greens.

But looming large is Kim, who put herself back in contention after a woeful start with a tournament-best 70.

“My first round was terrible, I made two double bogeys, my irons and putting didn’t work,” said Kim, who lost by one to Pauline del Rosario in the last LPGT stop at Caliraya Springs. “But today (yesterday), they clicked although I missed a lot of (birdie) chances since the greens are very hard.”

The 19-year-old rising star could’ve actually seized control with four birdies in the first 10 holes. But she bogeyed two of the last four holes to settle for solo third.

Kim, however, is very much excited to challenge again for the championship, saying: “It was so close at Caliraya but I made mistakes. I’ll do my best this time.”

Pamela Mariano was in the thick of things with a gutsy 72 after 15 holes but bogeyed the last three to end up with a 75. She fell to solo sixth instead at 151 while Gretchen Villacencio skied to a 77 for a 152 and Chihiro Ikeda also faltered with a five-over card and bowed out of the title race with a 156.

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