CHIHIRO Ikeda fired a three-under 69 to take a one-stroke lead over Jayvie Agojo at the start of the P500,000 ICTSI Orchard Golf Ladies Classic on Monday at Orchard’s Player Course in Dasmariñas, Cavite.
Seeking her first LPGT win after a pair of runner-up finishes last year, rolled in a six-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th to take the top spot on the leaderboard.
“The two early birdies boosted my confidence and though I dropped a shot on the third, I got it back with another birdie on No. 4,” said Ikeda. “But I had rollercoaster ride at the back and needed to birdie the 18th to stay in command.”
Agojo matched Ikeda 33 on the first nine, but the former Philippine Ladies Open champion settled for pars on the back nine and bogeyed the par-3 No. 14 on a missed green mishap for a two-under 70.
“The front nine was a bit easier but the back was tougher and longer and I needed to use hybrid and woods for my second shots. But overall, my short game was pretty solid,” said Agojo.
Cyna Rodriguez, top money earner and winner of two tournaments last year, shot a 72.
“I have to read my putts well but I still feel I can contend for the title,” said Rodriguez, who made an errant pitch on the par-3 No. 3 for bogey but tapped in for birdie on the next before sinking a 20-footer for birdie on the sixth.
She, however, drove into the hazard on No. 12, fought back with another gimme birdie on the next but three-putted Nos. 15 and 17 before banging in a 15-footer for birdie on the 18th.
Thai Amolkan Phalajivin, tipped as a top contender after a dominant performance in the Qualifying School, groped for form and fumbled with two double bogeys and six bogeys but eagled the final hole to card an eight-over 80.
Amateur Daniella Uy, coming off a runaway win in last week’s Philippine Amateur Match Play, bogeyed two of the last five holes for a 73.
Lovelynn Guioguio and Anya Tanpinco shot identical 75s, six shots off the pace in the 54-hole tournament backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports , Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.
Mary Grace Estuesta, a former Philippine Ladies Open champion, carded a 79 to join Lucy Landicho, Apple Fudolin, Sarah Ababa and amateurs Sam Bruce and LK Go.
Korean Seo Yon Kwon hobbled with an 81 for joint 14th with Lina de Guzman.