February 18, 2018, 5:49 am
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Fortuna blitzes past Saso, leads by 3 shots

DASMARINAS, Cavite. — Mikha Fortuna flashed near-impeccable touch on the greens and carded a bogey-free seven-under 65 Thursday to storm past Yuka Saso by three in the second round of the 2018 Champion Infinity Philippine Ladies Open at the Orchard Golf and Country Club here.

Rebounding from a bogey-bogey finish that cost her the first round lead and enabled Saso to take charge last Wednesday, Fortuna buckled down to work and birdied the first three holes from 10 feet. She stayed hot from there, coming through with solid approach shots and hot putting to string another three-birdie feat from No. 12.

The 17-year-old The Country Club spearhead capped her explosive round with another birdie on the 18th, impressing flightmate Saso no less.

“My short game and putting came in very hand. I made a lot of one putts and it felt great,” said Fortuna, who is coming off a sixth place finish in last week’s Philippine Amateur Open.

With a 136 total, Fortuna took a three-stroke cushion over Saso heading to the final 18 holes of the country’s premier championship organized and conducted by the Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines.

“Mikha was so good with her putting and I have to match that tomorrow to get a chance,” said Saso, seeking to add the PLO crown to her pro victory at Ayala Greenfield last week.

While Fortuna sizzled with her putter, the 16-year-old Saso struggled with hers, bogeying the opening hole on a three-putt miscue to drop off the leaderboard. The Fil-Japanese ace fought back with birdies on Nos. 2, 6, 9 and 14 but settled for pars the rest of the way to finish with a 69.

She dropped to second with a 139 while Thai Trachuentong Pinkaew fired an eagle-aided 68 to move to solo third at 140.

Pinkaew, who eagled No. 6, kept Fortuna within sight with a six-under card after 11 holes. But she stumbled with a missed green bogey on No. 14 and three-putted No. 17 for a four-under card.

Bianca Pagdanganan, who routed the field by nine to reign at Wack Wack last year and tied Fortuna and three others here in the first round, also groped for her putting form and missed a number of birdie opportunities. She hobbled with a 73 and slipped to fourth at 144, now eight shots behind Fortuna.

“I couldn’t make enough birdie putts,” rued Pagdanganan.

Harmie Constantino also struggled with a 74 for a 145 for joint fifth with Thai Phannarai Meesom-us, who also carded a 74, while another Thai, Kultida Pramphun turned in a second straight 73 for a 146 in the Open division of the event backed by backed by Champion Infinity, Eva Air, San Miguel Corp., Metro Pacific, Atty. Gilberto Duavit, Inquirer, Alveo Land, G&W Clubshares, Inc., Crimson Hotel Filinvest, Golfers Club Shares Inc., Cherrylume and NGAP.

Laurea Duque, 13, rebounded from a 79 with a 73 to gain a share of the Class B lead with Kristine Torralba, who also shot a 73, at 152, five shots ahead of Sofia Legaspi, who made a 76, and Jona Magcalayo, who bounced back with a 73, for 157s while Annyka Cayabyab also fought back with a 76 for a 158.

Jonah Ilagan fumbled with a 76 but kept the Class C lead with a 170, four strokes up on He Ling-Li, who pooled a 74 after an 87, while Ester Fasol made an 89 for a 179 for third in the 54-hole championship supported by Province of Cavite, Luisita Golf and Country Club, Mileage Asia, Vermogen, Golf Depot, Orchard Golf and Country Club, Alabang Ladies Chapter, Forest Hills GCC, Tagaytay Highlands, Sta. Elena Golf Club, Manila Golf Club and Canlubang GCC.
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