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Superal, Mariano lead ICTSI


‘The greens are firm and tough and you need to place the ball where you can hit a birdie or make a par.’

Princess Superal fires a 71 to grab a share of the early lead in the ICTSI Caliraya Springs Championship in Cavinti, Laguna. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF LPGT

CAVINTI, Laguna — Princess Superal and Pamela Mariano posted identical scores of one-under 71s through different paths on the course as they seized a one-stroke lead over Harmie Constantino after 18 holes of the ICTSI Caliraya Springs Championship on Tuesday.

Superal, making a notable return to the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour after a stint on the Japan Step Up Tour in 2022, navigated the Caliraya Springs Golf Club course’s demanding conditions with resilience.

Despite a shaky frontside 37, she rallied with key birdies in the last nine holes, including a six-footer on the last.

Her strong finish underscored her focus on refining her long game, vital skills on a course where precision in ball placement is paramount due to the firm and tricky greens.

“The greens are firm and tough and you need to place the ball where you can hit a birdie or make a par,” said Superal, who also competed in some LPGA Tour of Japan events.

The 2014 US Girls’ Junior champion missed par putts inside nine feet on Nos. 1 and 5 against a birdie on No. 2, but gained a stroke on No. 11 before holing out with another birdie.

Mariano, on the other hand, showed her potential to contend for another LPGT title.

With a steady performance that included two birdies at the back nine, she managed to overcome a bogey on No. 6, a result of an errant layup shot.

Mariano’s strategic approach, developed with her coach Boyet Zaragosa, emphasized playing to her strength and minimizing risks, a plan that served her well in securing a share of the lead with the 2022 Asia Pacific Cup winner.

“I didn’t expect to shoot a 71. My goal is to follow our game plan,” said Mariano, who has contended in at least three title runs.

“I’ll just focus on my strength,” she added. “No expectations but to improve my game each round.”

The field, oozing with talent, including Palos Verdes winner Constantino and defending champion Pauline del Rosario, promises an intense competition heading to the last two rounds of the P1 million, 54-hole championship put up by ICTSI.

Constantino recovered strong from bogeys on Nos. 1 and 3 as she birdied Nos. 8 and 15 to wrest solo third and stay on course for a second straight championship while del Rosario, alongside multi-titled Chanelle Avaricio and rookie pro and two-time leg winner Mafy Singson, matched 73s, setting the stage for a compelling contest.

On a break from the Epson Tour, Del Rosario blew a two-under card after five holes as she yielded two strokes on the par-5 No. 6 and bogeyed the 15th.

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