Playing to keep it close, Southwoods finds itself in the lead vs Pradera
DAVAO—Playing steady as a team on Wednesday, Manila Southwoods-Masters broke out of the gates hard enough to take the thunder away from Yuka Saso’s return to competitive play and build a five-point lead over fancied Pradera Verde at the start of the 13th PAL Ladies Interclub.
With Sofia Chabon shooting a level par 72 worth 54 points at bending Rancho Palos Verdes here, and Eagle Ace Superal and Mafy Singson accounting for 51s, the Carmona-based squad tallied 156 points and put defending champion Pradera in a place it has never been in before—behind the leader.
“We had a very, very good first day,” nonplaying skipper Claire Ong said after throwing away the 46 of Annika Guangco. “Our plan was to just really stay close and not let something like last year happen. Being in the lead is a very good thing.”
Pradera was blazing the whole week last year in Cebu, opening up a 21-point lead after the first round also behind Saso and never looking back, eventually winning by an astounding 43 points that ended Southwoods’ five-year reign.
Saso, the double gold medal winner in the Asian Games in Jakarta last month, had five birdies against two three-putt bogeys for a 57, but the Lubao-based team counted both 47s of 11-year-old Rianne Malixi and Malaysian Charlyne Chong Shinling for a 151.
“I really expected it to be closer this year,” Pradera coach Norman Sto. Domingo said. “They (Southwoods) are better prepared this time, and it showed in the way they played.”
Saso, no doubt, is the star attraction of the tournament. And the 17-year-old didn’t disappoint as she carried the fight for Pradera.
“It was a good round and we had fun,” Saso said while goofing around with Chabon and Superal in the scorer’s room. “It could have gone better. But there are still three rounds to be played.”
Pradera has four Malaysian junior standouts in its roster and played Shinling even without the benefit of a practice round. The Malaysians arrived at 5 in the afternoon on Tuesday.
Chabon said she could have gone a lot lower if not for a bad putting day which saw her miss at least six birdie chances from pin-length distance.
“I struggled on the greens,” Chabon said.
Both Ong and Sto. Domingo refused to disclose the teams that will come out for them in the second round on Thursday, though the Pradera tactician said that the three Malaysians would most likely see action after being given permission to practice the course Wednesday afternoon.