PRINCESS SUPERAL used a near-impeccable iron game at the back to fire a three-under 69 on Thursday and drive a wedge between her and her pursuers heading to the final round of the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) Hallow Ridge Ladies Challenge in San Pedro, Laguna.
Superal thwarted Chanelle Avaricio and amateur Lois Kaye Go’s challenge with a fine display of iron play and putting touch in the last nine holes of the Filipinas Golf Hallow Ridge, setting up birdies chances inside six feet which she made to break off a crowded leaderboard and seize a three-stroke lead at two-under 142.
Avaricio, who matched Superal’s opening 73 to share opening day honors Wednesday, fell by one with a frontside 37 then hit two birdies against a bogey at the back to save a 72 although she dropped three strokes behind at 145.
Go, just a shot off the joint leaders after 18 holes, reeled from a double-bogey mishap on the second hole but worked her way back into contention after a bogey on No. 5 with two birdies. She salvaged a 73 and remained at third at 147.
With the rest failing to mount a rally in moving day in the 54-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc., Superal will practically have two rivals to shun to nail another victory after winning two in an abbreviated campaign on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour last year.
“It will be a question of ball positioning,” said Superal, who snapped a one-birdie, one-bogey game at the front with birdies on No. 10 from six feet, on No. 13 from eight feet, and on the 18th from four feet on a tough side-hill, downhill spot. “Hopefully, I make more putts tomorrow (Friday).”
Avaricio failed to cash in on her local knowledge of the up-and-down layout but flashed resiliency after each stumble, birdying No. 7 after a bogey on the par five No. 6 for the second straight day, matching Superal’s birdie on the 10th after yielding a stroke on No. 8 and draining another birdie on the 17th after yielding a shot on No. 14.
“I struggled with my ball positioning, especially on the greens. I put myself mostly on the bad sides,” said Avaricio, seeking to nail a second LPGT crown after dominating the Riviera-Couples leg by seven last November.
“It’s all about executing the shots,” said the former Alabama State U standout. “If the putts drop, then that’s it.”
Go, priming up for the 31st Southeast Asian Games next month, had hoped to launch a big charge early but got stymied by a double-bogey miscue on the tough second hole. She dropped another stroke on the fifth but recovered to birdie the par-5 ninth then gained another stroke on No. 11 and rescued a couple of pars to stay in the hunt.
“I had kind of a rough start but I told myself to be composed and be patient and the birdies would come,” said the Cebuano ace. “They did, but I felt my game isn’t so consistent and had to make a couple of par-saves towards the end.”
But like her pro rivals, she vowed to stick to her game plan, saying: “I just need to shoot kind of little low tomorrow (today) and hopefully, my ball goes closer to the hole.”
The rest, however, could be too far to pose a threat as Chihiro Ikeda carded a 74 to tie Harmie Constantino, who fumbled with a 75, at 149, seven strokes off Superal, and Korean Jane Jeong pooled a 152 after limping with a 78.
Daniella Uy, winner at the tough Riviera-Langer last December, hardly rebounded from an opening 78 and a 76 for 154 while Pamela Mariano and amateur Arnie Taguines matched 78s for joint eighth at 155.