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LPGA Q-Series: Guce sizzles with 68; Ardina matches par

MANILA, Philippines – Clariss Guce used a solid start to fuel her drive for an LPGA Tour card, shooting a four-under 68 at the Crossings course to trail Taiwanese Ssu-Chia Cheng by just two at the start of the LPGA Q-Series at the RTJ Magnolia Grove in Mobile, Alabama Thursday (Friday Manila time).

But Dottie Ardina blew a two-under card with a wobbly bogey-par-bogey-par windup at the par-71 Falls layout, settling for a 71 in the other course hosting the grueling six-day final elims stage featuring 104 bidders for the Top 45 slots. She dropped to joint 52nd.

Pauline del Rosario, on the other hand, failed to get going after a birdie feat on the first hole, also at Falls, as the Epson Tour campaigner faltered with three bogeys against a birdie in the last 13 holes and fell to tied 66th with a one-over 72.

But Guce put in the kind of start needed in this kind of cutthroat competition, coming up with excellent short iron play to birdie the frontside par-3s (Nos. 2 and 8). She also set up birdie chances on Nos. 5, 6 and 9, which she all made for a five-under 31.

A mishap on the 10th, however, stalled the two-time Epson Tour winner’s charge and after another birdie on the 15th, the US-based Filipino holed out with her second bogey for a 37 and a 68 for a share of fourth with eight others, including former LPGA card holders Mina Harigae of the US and Canadian Maddie Szeryk.

Cheng, meanwhile, also dominated the Crossings’ frontside with a 31 and like Guce, yielded a stroke on the tough par-4 No. 10. But she birdied Nos. 13 and 14 and ran off with pars the rest of the way to seize the opening day honors with that 66 for a one-stroke lead over Canada’s Savannah Grewal, who also shot a 66 but at the Falls course.

Ardina, a one-time Epson Tour winner, birdied two of the first seven holes to put herself in the early mix and gunned down another birdie on the 11th to negate a bogey on the ninth. But after three pars, she failed to get up-and-down on Nos. 15 and 17 and dropped 27 spots from joint 25th.

Del Rosario also poised herself for a big start with a birdie on the first hole but missed a couple of chances in the next four and dropped strokes on Nos. 6 and 9 on missed