Ardina cards 70 to trail by four

Ardina cards 70 to trail by four

MANILA, Philippines — Dottie Ardina unleashed a strong finishing frontside kick to shoot a three-under 70 and stay in the mix of contenders at the start of the Women’s Australian Open paced by England’s Jodi Shadoff in Adelaide, South Australia yesterday.

Breaking a so-so two-birdie, two-bogey game at the backside of the par-73 Royal Adelaide Golf Club, Ardina birdied No. 3 from long range then closed out with back-to-back feats for a 34-36 card as she joined the big group at 19th place that includes local aces Minjee Lee and Hanna Green, American Christina Kim and Koreans Haeji Kang and Hee Jeong Lim, among others.

But they lay four shots behind a hot-starting Shadoff, who sizzled with seven birdies in a bogey-free 34-32 round that put her a stroke ahead of fancied Koreans Jeong Eun Lee6, who gunned down eight birdies but fumbled with two bogeys, and Inbee Park, who fired an eagle-spiked 33-34 card, for a pair of 67s.

A slew of players stood another shot, two or three adrift as 68 from the starting field of 144 churned out under-par rounds in a day of torrid scoring at the links layout.

Fil-Japanese Yuka Saso, however, failed to cash in on good scoring opportunity and hobbled with a two-over 75 marred by an early double-bogey on the par-4 11th. Though the 2018 Asian Games double gold medalist, one of the invitees to this $1.3 million event, recovered with a birdie on No. 17, she flubbed a couple of birdie chances at the front and dropped a stroke on the par-5 ninth.

She fell to joint 107th and will need to shoot in the 60s to keep her slim hopes of making it to the weekend play of the event serving as the fourth leg of the 2020 LPGA Tour.

While Saso continued to struggle following a missed cut stint at Handa Vic Open last week, Ardina has kept her good run of form that netted her a victory in the Ballarat Icons Pro-Am of the ALPG (Australian Ladies Professional Golf) Tour two weeks ago.

The Canlubang pro also came through with a strong finish in Handa Vic Open to salvage a joint 20th finish and firm up his hold of the lead in the ALPG Club Series ranking.