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Sports

Guce closes in on LPGA card; del Rosario stays in hunt

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Guce closes in on LPGA card; del Rosario stays in hunt
Clariss Guce of the Philippines plays her shot from the 17th tee during the first round of the LPGA Drive On Championship at Inverness Club on July 31, 2020 in Toledo, Ohio.
PATRICK SMITH / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

MANILA, Philippines – Clariss Guce overcame a frontside struggle by dominating the last two par-5s of Crossings as she rescued a 71 for joint 35th in the penultimate round of the LPGA Q-Series at RTJ Magnolia Grove in Mobile, Alabama Tuesday (Wednesday Manila time).

But Pauline del Rosario’s hopes slightly dipped as she fell off the Top 45 and ties target by one at joint 49th, also after a 71, while Dottie Ardina faced setbacks, enduring a disastrous backside start and limped with a 76, leaving her at tied 68th heading to the final round of the grueling elims for next year’s Tour membership.

Korean So Mi Lee underscored her readiness for the next level as she blazed the par-72 layout with a solid nine-under 63, spiked by an eagle on the par-5 No. 5, catapulting her to the lead at 27-under 331, now two strokes ahead of erstwhile frontrunner Robyn Choi.

The Aussie slowed down with a 68 after back-to-back 64s as she slipped to second with a 333 to likewise all but clinch her LPGA card, along with 24 others who pooled at least 347s.

But with a 349 total after five rounds, Guce finds herself with work to do in the last 18 holes to secure a second full season in the world’s premier ladies circuit.

After starting out at joint fourth, the US-based Filipina and winner of two Epson Tour titles dropped to joint ninth, then to tied 14th and a share of 29th. Despite fluctuating positions and after a two-bogey, one-birdie card after nine holes in the fifth round, Guce fought back at the back with clutch birdies on Nos. 13 and 16, both par-5s, to save a 37-34.

Del Rosario, who rose from a share of 59th to joint 40th with a 68 in the fourth round, fell off the ranking with bogeys on Nos. 10 and 12 where she teed off. But like Guce, the ICTSI-backed shotmaker also birdied the long holes at the back and added another feat on the par-4 14th to wheel back into contention.

Another mishap on the 18th momentarily halted her charge and a couple of missed chances at the front kept her below the projected cutoff line. But she birdied No. 6, also a par-5, and holed out with another birdie on the ninth to negate a mishap on No. 7 for a 35-36.

With a seven-under 351, del Rosario slipped to joint 49th, but just a stroke off six bidders who assembled 350s for a share of 43rd.

Ardina, tied with del Rosario at 40th after four rounds, bogeyed the first three holes at the back and a double bogey on No. 14 and another miscue on the next led to a 42. She did bounce back with birdies on Nos. 5 and 6 but her 76 and a 356 dropped her to joint 68th.

Despite the hurdles they faced in the fifth round, the three Filipinas maintain hope for their chances with Guce launching her final round bid against Maddie Szeryk of Canada and Laura Wearn of the US at 7:30 a.m. on No. 10, also of Crossings.

Del Rosario, on the other hand, is paired with Japanese former amateur hotshot Saki Baba and Nicole Estrup of Denmark at 8:14 a.m. while Ardina will tee off with American Amanda Doherty at 9:31 a.m., both at the backside.

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CLARISS GUCE

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