Chihiro Ikeda ahead by a solitary shot after bogey on closing hole at Mt. Malarayat
Chihiro Ikeda is the only player to break par on a tough day at Mt. Malarayat in Batangas. 

CHIHIRO Ikeda bogeyed the final hole for a 71 but still ended up with a one-stroke lead over Cyna Rodriguez in the first round of the P500,000 ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Ladies Classic on Wednesday in Lipa, Batangas.

The long-hitting Ikeda, chasing a breakthrough win on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, stormed to a three-shot lead over Rodriguez with three holes to go.

But Rodriguez trimmed the deficit to two with birdie on the par-5 No. 17 in a flight behind, then Ikeda bogeyed the final hole after failing to rescue a par from the greenside bunker to end up just a stroke ahead in the 54-hole tournament.

“My set-up for birdies was very good. I made some big ones but also missed some like on No. 8 where I three-putted. But overall, it was a nice round for me,” said Ikeda, who lost by three to Jayvie Agojo in the second leg at Riviera.

Rodriguez, eyeing a third leg win after dominating the Orchard and John Hay stages of the eight-leg circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., struggled with her putting but still salvaged a three-birdie, three-bogey round of 72.

“This is just the first round and there’s time to adjust to the slightly windy Mt. Lobo and Mt. Malipunyo courses,” said Rodriguez.

Amolkan Phalajivin double-bogeyed the last hole and missed joining Ikeda in the lead with a one-over 73, dropping into a tie with Agojo instead in what could’ve been an explosive start for the comely Thai shotmaker.

Phalajivin tied Ikeda at one-under with back-to-back birdies from No. 11, dropped two shots behind with a bogey on No. 15 which Ikeda birdied but pulled to within one again with a birdie on the 17th.

“It was a good run despite the late double-bogey. I was quite confident on No. 11 onwards,” said Phalajivin, who blew a one-under card after five holes with bogeys on Nos. 7 and 9.

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Agojo groped for putting form, muffing six birdie chances inside five feet but made one on No. 15 that kept her within striking distance of Ikeda at 73. She immediately headed to the practice green after turning in her scorecard that showed two birdies against a bogey and a double-bogey on No. 9.

Korean Kwon Seo Yon closed out with a 35 for a 74 and stood just three strokes behind Ikeda for solo fifth, while Sarah Ababa turned in a 75, Anya Tanpinco carded a 76 in a tie with Korean amateur Choi Yeon Hwa, Lovelynn Guioguio made a 78 and Apple Fudolin shot a 79 in the tournament sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and backed by Nike, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.

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