(STAR) Dottie Ardina came through with a birdie-birdie finish and fired a three-under par 69 to power the Philippines to the team championship while grabbing the lead in the individual competition of the Thailand Ladies Amateur Open Golf Championship at the President Country Club on Suwintawong Road here.

Ardina, who carded a 71 in the first round, birdied Nos. 15 and 18 against a missed green bogey on the 14th at the back, the frontside of her game yesterday. But the 13-year-old Junior World champion surged into the lead with that fiery finish.

With Mia Piccio carding a 75, the ICTSI-backed RP squad shot a 144 in the three-to-play, two-to-count format event for a 36-hole total of 286. The team pooled a 142 in the first day with Ardina and Cyna Rodriguez firing identical 71s.

Rodriguez blew a one-under card after nine holes and didnít count with a 76.

Thailand, which showed the way in the first round of the two-day team championship with a 141, settled for runner-up honors with a 290 after a 149.

Ardinaís superb round likewise netted her the lead in the individual competition as she totalled a four-under par 140 to post a one-stroke lead over compatriot Regina de Guzman, who matched par 72 for a 141.

Ainil Abubakar of Malaysia made a 73 for third with a 144.

Ardina couldíve pulled away from the pack had she made a couple of birdies as the spearhead of the national team flashed an near-impeccable iron game where she hit so many close shots.

Mamiit says Manny impressive in gym By Joaquin Henson The Philippine Star 03/30/2007

Two Filipino sports icons are training in Los Angeles for big assignments ahead.

Manny Pacquiao is working out at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood to prepare for his WBC International superfeatherweight title defense against unbeaten Mexican mystery man Jorge Solis in San Antonio on April 14 while Cecil Mamiit is girding his loins for the Philippinesí Asia/Oceania Group II semifinal Davis Cup tie against New Zealand in Auckland on April 6-8.

It was PBL commissioner and GMA-7 sports reporter Chino Trinidad who got Pacquiao and Mamiit together during a visit to L. A. last week. The fighter and the tennis ace often meet up early morning to jog side by side on the hilly 4,017-acre terrain of Griffith Park where the famous Hollywood sign is seen for miles on Mount Lee.

Mamiit, who won two gold medals for the country at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games, told The STAR the other day a normal person would be in severe pain doing the exercises that Pacquiao does in the gym.

"Mannyís training is very intense," said Mamiit who leaves L. A. with doubles partner Eric Taino for Auckland Friday night. "There is a routine to everything he does. Itís hard but very effective. He religiously follows the routine. His support group is really pushing him. Manny breezes through his ab workouts, for instance, even if they arenít easy."

Mamiit said watching Pacquiao in the gym is an inspiration.

"Itís an experience to see first hand what a fighter goes through," said Mamiit. "I watched him work the pads with (trainer) Justin Fortune, throwing combinations. Justin is protective of who watches Mannyís workouts. Iím impressed with Mannyís hand and foot speed. Heís super fast. His legs are really strong. He has a quick bounce to his step. Training with Manny, I hope, will raise my endurance and work ethic to the highest level that Iíve never achieved so that I can do great things this year. This is all crossed fingers, of course. Iím very much motivated by the support Eric and I have received from Filipino fans. It makes me want to continue growing. Itís a feeling that athletes live for. It makes me feel Iím accomplishing something for myself, the fans and the country."

Mamiit said he admires Pacquiao for the honor he brings to the Philippines through sports.

"Manny brings respect to the Philippines and thatís what Eric and I are trying to do," said Mamiit. "Iíve watched Mannyís fights. Itís all about heart. Heís very determined to win and heíll never back down from anything. Mannyís all heart."

Mamiit joined Pacquiao for another jog Thursday.

Last Tuesday, Mamiit and Taino ran ahead of Pacquiao at Griffith Park but despite the head start, the fighter caught up in the end.

"Eric and I saw Manny on our way down from the top of the park," said Mamiit. "We finished the run in about 47 minutes. Manny did it in 38, beating his old record of 42. After his run, Manny even did some ab workouts which were punishing."

Outside the gym, Mamiit said Pacquiao is a regular guy. "Once, we had a light snack with Manny and his group at the Thai restaurant near the gym after a workout," said Mamiit. "His friends and support group did most of the talking and joking around. Manny seemed to keep to himself Ė thatís because heís so focused. He was the perfect host, very generous, passing food around and making sure everyone had enough to eat."

Another thing that Mamiit noticed was Pacquiaoís car. He drove a sleek top-down 2007 Mercedes SL 550.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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