Constantino shoots 69, wrests lead

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    GEN. TRIAS. — Harmie Constantino took charge with an early burst of birdies then bucked a faltering finish and Princess Superal’s late fightback to cling to a one-stroke lead Wednesday and close in on a dream debut in the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Challenge at the Aoki course here.

    The rookie pro sustained her birdie-birdie finish Tuesday that kept her within a stroke off Superal, mastering Nos. 8 and 9 for the second straight day to surge ahead by two on a fiery 33 start. She bucked the heat and the wind and went four-under with another pair of birdies from No. 14 against a bogey on the 12th but bogeyed the 18th again to settle for a 69.

    With a 142 total, the former University of Georgia mainstay moved 18 holes away from marking her maiden Ladies Philippine Golf Tour campaign with a victory under the new normal, five years after beating a crack international field, sans Superal, by eight to win the ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Classic as an amateur.

    “I holed in more putts today and played a little less aggressive, so I made less mistakes,” said Constantino, who toned down expectations for a big finish.

    “I’m here just to have fun,” she said.

    But Superal, winner and runner-up in the twin ICTSI Riviera events late last year, is no mood for leisure play. Failing to match Constantino’s hot start with a birdie-bogey frontside card, she fell farther back with another mishap on No. 10 but rebounded with birdies on No. 15 and 16 to card a 71.

    The 2019 LPGT Order of Merit winner also closed out with a clutch par to cash in on her rival’s last-hole miscue to stay close at 143, guaranteeing a shootout for the top purse of P72,000 in the 54-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

    Pauline del Rosario, who set an LPGT record by winning four titles in her rookie season in 2017, blew a one-under frontside card with a bogey on the 12th but her 72 and 146 earned her a spot in the championship flight and a crack at another victory after edging Superal by one in the other Riviera event.