Dabawenya Chihiro Ikeda rallied with three birdies in the last seven holes to salvage a second straight 74 and make it to the weekend play of the Suntory Ladies Open golf tournament at the Rokko Kokusai Golf Club in Hyogo, Japan, Friday.
On the brink of missing the cut with an awful start, the 18-year-old Ikeda flashed some kind of resiliency as she birdied the par-5 12 from three feet, gunned down another birdie from 15 feet on the 15th before closing out with her third on the par-4 18th.
“She’s really a fighter. Ranged against the pros and in danger of missing the cut, Chihiro just put on an explosive windup to make it to the last two days,” said ICTSI golf team coach Bong Lopez.
It was indeed a fiery finish by Ikeda, who came into the pro event of the Japan Ladies PGA Tour oozing with confidence following her victory in the Singapore Ladies Amateur Open. With a 148 aggregate, the top ICTSI bet moved up from joint 41st to a share of 34th although she dropped seven strokes behind new leader Akane Iijima.
She failed to rescue pars after driving into the thick roughs on Nos. 2 and 5, dropped another stroke on No. 7 after she three-putted from eight feet and made a double bogey on the ninth after taking a penalty on an unplayable lie in the bunker.
Ikeda, however, remained the top player among the eight amateurs invited to the 72-hole championship, two strokes clear of Taiwanese Hsuan Yu Yao, who fumbled with a 76 for a 150.
Iijima fired a two-under 70 to grab a one-stroke lead at 141 over three others as opening day leader Ayako Uehara limped home with a 77 and dropped to joint 13th at 151.
One stroke behind Iijima at 142 are Nikki Campbell, who carded a 71, Kaori Aoyama, who had a 73, and Yukari Baba, who matched par 72.(pr)