Blazing finish puts Dottie Ardina back in hunt

LUBAO, Pampanga, Philippines — Dottie Ardina unleashed a strong finishing kick to get back into the mix, banging in a pair of back-to-back birdies in the last five holes to shoot a two-under 70 and trail a hot-starting Ornicha Konsunthea of Thailand by two in the ICTSI Pradera Verde Ladies Classic here yesterday.

Blowing a fine start of two birdies in the first four holes in her return stint on the local circuit, the LPGA Tour-bound Filipina ace got ruffled by the strong wind that blew from all over, bogeying four of the next seven to drop from the top to the middle of the 37-player pack.

But she picked herself up in time and turned in a kind of finish expected from a player of her caliber, closing out with birdies from Nos. 14 and 17 to join a crowded group at second just two strokes off Konsunthea, who, in contrast, used a scorching start to wrest control of the stellar field.

“The wind was strong and I got caught by the gusts at the back,” said Ardina, who rose to the challenge and rolled in birdies from long range to wheel back into early contention in a rare stint in the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour after an impressive runner-up finish in the Symetra Tour that earned her a full card for next year’s LPGA Tour.

She hopes to sustain her scorching finish in today’s pivotal second round in a bid to gain on Konsunthea, who churned out a bogey-free 68 in tough conditions to emerge on top of the heap.

The Bangkok native, who tied for ninth in the opening leg of the 2019 Ladies Philippine Golf Tour season at John Hay last October, birdied four of the last six holes at the front, spiking his solid start with a near-ace on No. 8 a day before her 22nd birthday. She then survived the exacting conditions at the back with a run of pars at the flat but demanding Pradera Verde layout to complete the lone bogey-free 32-36 round in the challenging day.

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