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Del Rosario targets third LPGT crown

SILANG, Cavite – Pauline del Rosario launches her drive for a third straight crown on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour as the ICTSI Riviera Ladies Championship fires off today at Riviera’s Langer course here.

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After a couple of failed bids for a maiden pro win, Del Rosario racked up back-to-back victories in empathic fashions at Orchard and Baguio last month and turned in a strong fourth place effort in the recent Taiwan Ladies Open, making her the player to watch in the P750,000 event sponsored by ICTSI.

“I’m feeling good right now, my confidence has been constantly high, especially coming off a solo fourth place at the Taiwan Ladies Open, my best finish so far abroad,” said Del Rosario, also a former Philippine Ladies Open winner.

But unlike in her two title romps, Del Rosario will have her hands full this week with reigning Philippine Ladies Open champion Bianca Pagdanganan joining at the last minute to further bolster the compact international field.

Amateur Pagdanganan, the first golfer in Gonzaga University to compete in the US NCAA Championships, humbled an elite international field to win the 55th staging of the country’s premier ladies championship in record fashion – via winning 16-under total at Wack Wack last January.

She starts at 8:10 a.m. with Apple Fudolin and Thai Jaruporn Naayutthawa, hoping to figure prominently in her first stint on the LPGT.

Del Rosario, meanwhile, expects to start out strong against former leg winner Chihiro Ikeda and Thai Sarinee Thitiratanakorn in the 7:40 a.m. flight, ready to face the challenge of the compact international field and the terrors lurking at the hazard-laden Langer layout.

“Riviera’s Langer is a tough course but I think I can post good scores, having played here regularly during my younger years,” said the former amateur hotshot.

Saruttaya Ngam-usawan, on the other hand, heads a seven-player Thai contingent in the 54-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. She rallied to beat former three-time LPGT Order of Merit winner Cyna Rodriguez by two in last year’s Royal Northwoods leg.