PAULINE DEL ROSARIO steered a demanding round with finesse then checked an impending skid with a last-hole birdie to salvage a 73 and finish in joint seventh place in the Party Golfers Ladies Open won by local Ling-Jie Chen in wire-to-wire fashion in Hsinchu county in Chinese Taipei on Friday.
Del Rosario’s closing feat from 30 feet saved what would’ve been a disastrous ending for the top Filipina campaigner, who recovered from a two-over frontside card with birdies on Nos. 11 and 14, but dropped out of the top 10 with missteps on Nos. 15 and 17.
Counting her 69s at the up-and-down Lily Golf and Country Club course, del Rosario pooled a 54-hole total of 211, 10 strokes off Chen and in a tie with Taiwanese Cheng-Hsuan Shih, Hsin Lee, Yu-Ju Chen and former Ladies Philippine Golf Tour winner Ching Huang.
“I had three birdie chances that could’ve gone in, but the putts, they weren’t falling as much as they did yesterday,” said del Rosario, who also flubbed par-saving putts inside six feet on Nos. 2, 15 and 17.
She found her touch on No. 11, which she drilled in from six feet and her second birdie on No. 14 from just about the same distance sparked hopes of a strong finish for the International Container Terminal Services Inc.-backed ace, who is building up for the Ladies Professional Golf Association Q-Series from November 30 to December 5 in Alabama.
But a mishit led to a third bogey on the par-three 15th and after a missed birdie chance on the last long hole, she yielded another stroke on the 17th before rolling in a monster putt from way out on the last.
Shih sizzled with a 66, Lee shot a 70, Yu-Ju Chen hobbled with a 74 and Huang eagled No,. 14 to likewise rescue a 73.
Earlier, Florence Bisera blew a one-under card after seven holes with a bogey on No. 8 and a wet double-bogey on the next. But the Davaoena shotmaker battled back with two birdies in the last nine holes and finished with a 72 for a 215 as she posted a tied for 18th finish in her first overseas foray in the NT$4 million championship co-sanctioned by the Taiwan LPGA and the LPGT.
Amateur Mafy Singson, a two-time LPGT winner, shot four birdies against three bogeys but yielded another stroke on the 16th for a 72 and a share of 21st at 216 while Daniella Uy, who placed fourth when the LPGT last played here in 2019 before the pandemic, tumbled to joint 26th at 217 after a birdie-less 75 marred by two bogeys in the last five holes.
Amateur Laurea Duque shot a 73 for a 221 and tied for 45th, Chihiro Ikeda also made a 73 for a share of 48th at 222 and Chanelle Avaricio closed out with no birdie to show in a 76 and finished at 56th with a 225.
Ling-Jie Chen, meanwhile, marked her maiden win in big fashion, breaking out of a tight endgame battle with a fiery four-birdie spree from No. 14 for a 67 and a 201, beating TLPGA Order of Merit (OOM) frontrunner Ya-Chun Chang by four.
Chang pulled to within one off Chen with an eagle on the par-five No. 14, which the latter birdied in the last flight, and the former failed to match Chen’s scorching windup and finished with a 68 for a 205.
“Two weeks ago, I missed the cut and I was very nervous this week and I will be very said if I would fail to advance again here,” said Chen, who didn’t only make the grade but also dominated the field with her A-game that included a 66 and 68.
“I missed the chance to play with a Filipina player this week but I would love to in future TLPGA-LPGT tournaments,” added the bespectacled Chen.
Erstwhile joint leader Babe Liu sputtered with a 74 and slipped to joint third with Thai Mim Sangkapong, the reigning Thai Ladies Masters champion, who shot a 70, at 208.
Four strokes off the leaders at joint sixth after 36 holes, del Rosario had hoped to replicate her TLPGA success six years ago when she rallied from six shots down in the final round and won the TLPGA and Royal Crown at the Royal Kuan-Hsi Golf Club, also in Hsinchu, to highlight her standout rookie season that also netted her four LPGT victories and the OOM title.
But the up-and-down layout proved to be a formidable challenge and del Rosario faced an uphill battle all day, conceding two strokes at the frontside to reel back. Despite a two-birdie charge in the first five holes at the back, bogeys on Nos. 15 and 17 appeared to have dashed even her chances for at least a Top 10 finish. But a closing birdie saved her a 37-36 and a joint seventh finish.