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Guce sustains run; del Rosario fights back

MANILA, Philippines -- Clariss Guce kept her stellar performance despite a switch in course play, slowing down but staying in the mix with a bogey-free 68 at the Falls layout after two rounds of the LPGA Q-Series at the RTJ Magnolia Grove in Mobile, Alabama Friday (Saturday Manila time).

Pauline del Rosario, meanwhile, rebounded from a one-over 72 at Falls with a two-under 70 at Crossings, banking on a couple of late birdies in a frontside finish to get back into the thick of things in the grueling six-round elims offering cards for next year’s LPGA Tour.

Dottie Ardina, on the other hand, shot a 71 at Crossings and also stayed in strong contention for one of the Top 45 and ties spots.

There will actually be a cut after 72 holes although the LPGA hasn’t formally announced how many players will advance to the final two rounds.

Korean So Mi Lee flourished with a bogey-free six-under 65 at Falls and took command of the 104-player field with a 133, one stroke ahead of Americans Jennifer Song and Mina Harigae, who matched 134s after solid 65 and 66, both also at Falls, for 135s.

Guce, a two-time Epson Tour winner and an LPGA Tour rookie in 2019, showcased her superb short iron play, birdying the two par-3s (Nos. 6 and 11) and adding another birdie on the par-4 No. 4 to string a 33-35 after exploding with a five-birdie binge in the first nine holes at Crossings on her way to a 68 Thursday.

The US-based Filipina pooled a 136 for joint ninth, just three strokes behind Lee.

Del Rosario, who started out at tied 66th after a one-over 72 at Falls, actually slipped with a bogey on Crossings’ No. 10 where she teed off. But the ICTSI-backed shotmaker quickly recovered with birdies on Nos. 11 and 13 then bounced back from another mishap on No. 1 with birdies on Nos. 2 and 6.

Her pair of 35s and a 142 lifted her to joint 52nd in a tie with Ardina and 13 others, just a shot off the Top 45 group.

Ardina, who matched par at Falls Thursday, snapped a two-bogey, one-birdie card at the back with back-to-back birdies from No. 3 but missed a couple of chances in the last five holes to settle for a 34-37.

But del Rosario and Ardina face the challenge of putting up stronger showing in the