Ardina fires 68, trails by 3

Dottie Ardina bucked a bogey on the final hole to shoot a four-under-par 68 at the start of the Circling Raven Championship at the Circling Raven Golf Club in Worley, Indiana Friday.

The 28-year-old Filipina, priming up for her return to the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour next week, was three shots off the pace in joint 10th place.

Starting on the back nine, Ardina opened with a birdie before cruising to 10 straight pars. She birdied four of the next six holes before settling for the bogey finish on 9.

Abby Arevalo shot a 70 behind three birdies against a lone bogey while Clariss Guce carded a 74.

Tied on top with 65s were Alisa Rodriguez, Polly Mack, Pavarisa Yoktuan and Ana Paula Valdes.

Rodriguez spent last week in California, competing in Stage I of the LPGA Qualifying Tournament. She thought about taking this week off to rest, but her dad encouraged her to keep the momentum — evidently paying off.

The Texan went bogey-free and only missed two greens on the day. She said she’s happy to see putting practice paying off.

“If you would have told me that I had to go back to Q-School and the week after I’d be tied for first, I would have laughed,” Rodriguez said. “But it’s a great feeling.”

Mack, who recently finished third at the French Lick Charity Classic and T12 at the Four Winds Invitational, kept momentum just like Rodriguez. The German carded nine birdies on the day, three of which were consecutive from No. 13 to No. 15.

“It felt good, and I’m really happy I made that last birdie,” said Mack. “That was important to me because I don’t think I’ve ever shot 7-under. I’ve shot 8-under and 6-under, but not 7-under, so I’m really happy with that round.”

Yoktuan finds her name at the top of the leaderboard once again, after going bogey-free and carding seven birdies. She finished the morning thankful for a solid round with good weather.

“It felt nice,” Yoktuan said. “Luckily this morning it wasn’t really windy. I told myself to be patient. I’m hitting it good, and it’s going to go in once I hit the speed.”

Like Mack, Valdes also recorded nine birdies on the day. She had a perfect front nine but carded two birdies on No. 16 and 17. One of the birdies started her round on No. 1, which Valdes said helped her get into a comfortable spot.

“It started the momentum and a good attitude,” Valdes said. “It was a good first hole.”

With report

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