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Del Rosario edges Superal in thriller

Pauline del Rosario
Del Rosario

PAULINE del Rosario subdued Princess Superal in a tense, rainy backside duel, pulling off a clutch par-save on the 17th and pouncing on her rival’s mishap to snare the ICTSI Riviera Championship crown by one in Silang, Cavite yesterday.

Tied for the last time heading to Langer’s course signature hole, both players missed the overlooking green but Del Rosario made a clutch chip and tapped in for par and reclaimed the lead as Superal failed to get up-and-down from the left rough and needed two putts to hole out for bogey.

Del Rosario closed out with a routine par on the difficult finishing hole for a 72 and Superal saved hers off the bunker for a 73, capping a thrilling finish that served as a fitting ending to a two-tournament Ladies Philippine Golf Tour bubble put up by ICTSI in pandemic-hit season.

I didn’t think about the scores the whole round. I really just focused on playing my own game, given the strong rain which affected my club selections,” said Del Rosario, who assembled a 215 total and pocketed the top P72,000 purse.

Superal wound up with a 216 and received P52,000.

Del Rosario’s victory was in stark contrast to Superal’s five-shot romp over Abby Arevalo in the ICTSI Riviera Invitational Challenge at the adjacent Couples layout three weeks where Del Rosario struggled and finished a distant third.

But the 22-year-old shotmaker, who marked her rookie pro career with four victories and ran away with the LPGT Order of Merit diadem in 2017, worked on her short game and putting during the break and fine-tuned every aspect of her game.

The first Filipina to win on the LPGA of Taiwan Tour, also in 2017, fired a 70 in the first round of the P400,000 event and trailed Superal by one then scrambled for a 73 in harsh condition to force a tie after 36 holes, sealing a mano-a-mano with last year’s OOM champion as the rest of the compact field failed to catch up.

In an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation, Del Rosario blinked and bogeyed No. 3 and fell by one at the turn against Superal’s par-game.

But she hit a solid drive on the par-5 10th and hacked a superb shot from 135 yards for a tap-in eagle against her rival’s birdie to tie again, only to yield two strokes on the next, which Superal bogeyed before forcing another draw as the latter dropped a stroke on No. 12.

Superal reclaimed the lead with another birdie on the 13th but fell into a tie again with a bogey on the next before Del Rosario rammed in a seven-footer for birdie on No. 15 to surge ahead.

But it didn’t last long as she bogeyed the par-5 16th, giving Superal another crack at the crown for a sweep of the twin tournaments organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

Superal, however, blew it as she failed to match Del Rosario’s clutch par-save on the 17th.

Daniella Uy skied to a 77 and placed third with a 226 while Chanelle Avaricio carded a 75 and tied Chihiro Ikeda, who fumbled with a 78, at fourth at 227 followed by Gretchen Villacencio (80-232), Arevalo (78-233), Cyna Rodriguez (82-238), Marvi Monsalve (84-241) and amateur Monica Mandario (86-260).