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Ardina cards 69, but trails by 7 in ShopRite Classic

MANILA, Philippines -- Dottie Ardina made the most of her limited appearance on the LPGA Tour, firing a three-under 68, while newly crowned US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso settled for a 69 at the start of the ShopRite LPGA Classic led by Arpichaya Yubol in Galloway, New Jersey Friday (Saturday Manila time).

Ardina, who balances her campaign between the Epson Tour and the LPGA Tour, had a strong start in the $1.75-million championship, birdying three of the first six holes. However, she stumbled with a double bogey on the par-3 No. 7. Despite this setback, she maintained her composure, carding five straight pars before birdying two of the next three holes, resulting in nines of 36-32 at the par-71 Seaview Bay course.

Despite her efforts, Ardina only managed to earn a share of 39th place as the majority of the field took advantage of the ideal scoring conditions. With 87 players breaking par, a two-under card is projected to be the cutoff score.

Ardina, expected to join ICTSI stablemate Bianca Pagdanganan in the Philippine team for the Paris Olympics next month, found herself trailing Yubol by seven strokes. The Thai golfer, who beat Saso for the ICTSI Manila Ladies Golf Classic title in 2019, dominated the course with an eagle-spiked, bogey-free 10-under 61.

She led Jenny Shin by two strokes after the Korean shot a 63 that featured nine birdies against a bogey.

Saso, fresh off her second major championship win in Pennsylvania, where she also secured a return to the Olympic Games, broke a birdie-bogey pattern after 11 holes. She managed back-to-back birdies from No. 3 for a 69, placing her in joint 51st.

Pagdanganan, however, struggled with a 73, placing her in joint 129th and in danger of missing the cut in the 54-hole championship.

In Michigan, Pauline del Rosario posted a 72 with two birdies and two bogeys, trailing Anita Uwadia by five strokes after the first round of the Firekeepers Casino Hotel Championship of the Epson Tour in Battle Creek.

Del Rosario, whose campaign is also supported by the world’s leading port operator, missed five fairways but showcased superb iron play and recovery shots, hitting all but two greens. However, she struggled on the