MANILA, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — Dottie Ardina, due for a breakthrough win after three runner-up finishes, headed to that dream finish as she sizzled with a bogey-free eight-under 64 to wrest a one-stroke lead over Czech Karolina Vlckova at the start of the PHC Classic at the Brown Deer Park Golf Course in Grendale, Wisconsin Friday.
Birdies in the last three holes highlighted the Filipina ace shotmaker’s solid 33-31 card at the par-72 layout, which took a severe beating from the elite field with 60 players breaking par and the projected cut-off line pegged at one-under.
“It was one of those days that it’s perfect yardage,” said Ardina, who hit all greens in regulation and used just 28 putts to take control. “In between clubs, making a lot of putts, hitting it closer to the hole and having fun out there.”
Currently leading the Volvik Race for next year’s LPGA Tour card with back-to-back second place efforts at Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic and the Symetra Classic last May and at the Donald Ross Classic last month, Ardina put herself on course for a first career win on the Symetra Tour.
A top two finish this week will also net Ardina a spot in The Evian Championship, the fifth and final major on the LPGA Tour calendar, set Sept. 13-16 in France.
“The course is not too long for me. I hit a lot of 7-irons, which is my comfortable approaching shot. The par-5s, though my third shots are close from 80-85 yards, I’m really comfortable with the length of the course. It really suits my game,” said Ardina.
But hot on her trail is Vlckova, who missed joining Ardina in the lead with a last-hole bogey that ruined what could’ve been a solid round for the former University of Florida standout, who rattled off four straight birdies to wrap up a 31 start at the front then eagled the par-5 10th and hit another birdie on the 13th to wrest control before Ardina closed out with a three-birdie binge.
Fil-Am Demi Runas likewise put herself in early contention in the $100,000 event with a 67 while Mia Piccio carded a 69 to fall five shots off her hot-starting compatriot.