Abby Arevalo bucked the heat and the sleek putting surface with a superb all-around game, shooting a bogey-free three-under 68 and seizing a huge five-stroke lead over Rianne Malixi at the start of the Philippine Ladies Open at the Manila Golf Club in Makati yesterday.
The SEA Games team gold medalist flaunted impressive form off the mound and came away with a number of solid approach shots that produced birdies inside 12 feet on Nos. 5, 6 and 10 as she finished with a pair of 34s in her first official tournament at the tight, well-kept layout.
“This is my first time to play this course and I’m happy to shoot a 68 despite the heat,” said the 20-year-old Arevalo, seeking to bounce back from a playoff setback 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.
While the rest of the 70-player cast struggled on the unreceptive greens all day, Arevalo, a product of the San Jose State U in the US, banked on her familiarity with such kind of a surface to turn in the day’s lone under-par card in the 58th staging of the event sponsored by San Miguel Corp., Diamond Motors, Sunsports and Eva Air.
“The greens were a bit fast but I think it suits my game. It’s like playing in the US,” she said, “I just love the greens and I could’ve scored lower had I holed in more putts.”
The rest must’ve wished too, at least to 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 duplicating 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), Inquirer Golf, New World Hotel, Pocari, Mercedes-Benz, Manila Golf Ladies, Regent Travel, Hyundai, Poten-Cee, Pascual Lab, Net25, Lake Shore CCY, FHLCI and Tagaytay Ladies, failed to get going and skied to a 79 in a tie with Fil-Guamanian Kristin Oberiano and Martina Miñoza.
Aussie Charlotte Huyn likewise wavered and made an 80, the same output put in by Ma. Alexandra Prieto and Rita Hora while Cebuana Junia Gabasa shot herself in the foot with an 81 and will have a lot of catching up to do in the last 36 holes of the event organized and conducted by the Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines.
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