Pauline del Rosario turned things around with a birdie-spree at the turn until a bogey-bogey windup flipped the tide again for the Filipina ace in the second round of the Party Golfers Ladies Open on Thursday in Hsinchu county.
Del Rosario staged a stirring fightback from a one-over card after four holes with a six-birdie binge in an eight-hole stretch from No. 9 that moved her within two shots off local ace Ling-Jie Chen at joint second heading to the par-4 17th.
But she lost her momentum in the last two holes and failed to rescue pars after missing both greens, ending up with a second straight 69 for a 138 that kept the ICTSI-backed shotmaker at joint sixth, four shots behind a hot-charging Babe Liu and Chen heading to the last 18 holes of the NT$4 million (PP6.921 million) championship.
Thai Mim Sangkapong carded a 69, Ching Huang of Chinese-Taipei shot a 71 and erstwhile joint leader Jessica Peng wound up with a 72 as they tied Del Rosario at sixth.
Two flights behind, Chen dropped Peng with a frontside 32 then made up for a miscue on No. 12 with three birdies in the next four although she had to settle for a 68 after a bogey on No. 17, enabling a Liu, who produced the tournament-best seven-under 65 spiked by closing back-to-back birdies, to force a tie at 134.
“I hit a lot of good second shots that set a lot of birdie chances and I’m very happy to have made almost all my putts,” said Liu, who birdied Nos. 2, 4, 5, 9, 10 14, 17 and 18 against a bogey on No. 12.
“My goal is to shoot four-under for every round, so let’s see how it goes,” she added when asked of her final round game plan.
Chen also banked on her superb approach shots to hit six birdies but rued her bad second shot on No. 17 that saw her overshoot the green and end up with her second bogey.
But she remained upbeat about her chances for a breakthrough win although she expressed surprise after seeing Liu turn in a 65, saying: “I’m shocked that some players just find the course so easy.”
The duo stood three strokes clear of another troika of local bets, Yu-Ju Chen and Tsai-Ching Tseng, who both fired 66s, and LPGA of Taiwan Order of Merit frontrunner Ya-Chun Chang, who put in a 68, for 137s.
“I had a lot of birdie chances by hitting the fairways and greens and my putts were just falling,” said Del Rosario, referring to her blistering birdie run that pulled her within striking distance of Chen.
But she failed to rescue a par on the tight 17th and slipped on her second shot on the last hole that led to another miscue.
Despite her late foldup, she said: “I think I’m in a good spot. The course is gettable but also a lot can happen, so I think I have a good chance. But I have to play my best.”
Del Rosario rallied from six shots down in the final round to snatch the TLPGA and Royal Open crown in 2017, becoming the first Filipina to win on one of the region’s top ladies circuits.
“I slipped on my second shot on No. 18 and my ball didn’t go too far and missed my pitch for an up-and-down,” said del Rosario, who is priming up for the LPGA Q-Series slated later this month in Alabama.
Meanwhile, six other Filipinas, including two amateurs, made the Top 53 and ties cut with Daniella Uy rallying with a 70 for joint 15th at 142, Florence Bisera rescuing a 71 for a share of 18th at 142 and amateur Mafy Singson also fighting back with a two-under card for tied 21st at 144.
Amateur Laurea Duque and Chanelle Avaricio battled back with 73s for 148 and 149, respectively, while Chihiro Ikeda fired a 71 to likewise post a 149 to advance.
Korean Seoyun Kim, also a member of the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour contingent, also gained with a 71 for tied 39th at 146.
Missing the cut at 149 were Harmie Constantino (77-152), Sarah Ababa (78-152), Marvi Monsalve (72-153), Rev Alcantara (74-155), Pamela Mariano (76-157), Mikha Fortuna (82-159) and amateur Lia Duque (86-164).