Late birdies propel Cyna to 3-shot lead

Posted at 08/15/2014 1:11 PM

LIPA, Batangas, Philippines – Cyna Rodriguez rode on a fiery backside stint to whisk off Jayvie Agojo and storm to a three-stroke lead with a 69 and into the threshold of a third vi Cyna Rodriguez ctory in the season in the P500,000 ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Ladies Classic at Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club’s here yesterday.

Pressed by Agojo at the turn, Rodriguez unleashed a strong finishing kick with three birdies in the last nine holes for a 33 that put the reigning Order of Merit champion, who bucked poor putting to card a 72 in the first round Wednesday, on a familiar place at 141.

“I was on target with my drives and my putting was okay,” said Rodriguez after moving 18 holes away from scoring a follow-up to her runaway victories at the Orchard and John Hay legs of this year’s ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.

Agojo, who opened with a 73, hit all but three greens in regulation but just couldn’t sink the putts, making just three out of eight birdie opportunities and settling for a 71 and a 144 in the 54-hole tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Nike, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.

“I could’ve easily shot a 6-under with my great game. I got the right speed and direction but my putts just wouldn’t fall in,” rued Agojo, who birdied Nos. 16 and 17 but flubbed a 10-foot putt for par on the 18th to fall behind by three.

Thai Amolkan Phalajivin struggled with a slight arm injury in the early going but battled back with closing back-to-back birdies to salvage a 73 and move to third at 146, five strokes off Rodriguez.

“I was on the range Wednesday when I felt it. My arm was hurting and sometimes becomes numb. I thought it was nothing but when I woke up, the pain was still there,” said Phalajivin, who headed straight to a hospital after turning in her scorecard that yielded five bogeys against four birdies.

First round leader Chihiro Ikeda hobbled and limped with a 76 with a bad back after a 71 and tumbled to fourth at 147 while Korean Kwon Seo Yon matched Rodriguez’s closing 33 to save a 74 for a 148.

“When I execute a shot, it is really painful. It was not much of a problem in the first round but today (yesterday) it was. I hope the pain goes away in the final round,” said Ikeda.

Sarah Ababa blew a 36 start with a 39 and slid to sixth at 150 while amateur Angela de Villa bogeyed No. 16 and ended up with a 72 for joint seventh with Lovelynn Guioguio, who carded a 74, at 151.

As Ikeda floundered with three bogeys in the first six holes, Agojo took the challenger’s role, birdying No. 8 to go one-up on Rodriguez, who bogeyed No. 7 but birdied the ninth to draw level with the Riviera leg champion.

But what was expected to be a backnine shootout turned out to be blow-out as Rodriguez gained on a two-shot swing with a birdie on the par-3 No. 11 from 15 feet which Agojo bogeyed after flubbing a par putt bid from 10th.

Agojo did fight back with a birdie on the next only to reel back with a bogey on the 13th and Rodriguez went 3-up with another birdie on the par-3 15th. Agojo birdied the next and matched Rodriguez birdie on the 17th but the former failed to return a 10-footer for par after missing the 18th green.