Chip-in birdie nets De Guzman NWGA crown

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Regina de Guzman CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Regina de Guzman
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Regina de Guzman turned from flawed to flawless, chipping in for birdie on the par-5 sudden death 18th then watching Prima Thammaraks crumble with a three-putt miscue to snare the NWGA (National Women’s Golf Association) crown at LPGA International-Jones in Daytona Beach, Florida on Thursday.

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It was a stunning reversal to what had looked like a sorry ending for the Filipina amateur who birdied four of the last nine holes in regulation to fire a 67 and tie the Thai pro, who carded a 70, at 207. But after opting to lay-up on the reachable 469-yard closing hole, de Guzman hit a poor pitch shot but chipped in from around 20 yards for birdie.

That unsettled Thammaraks, who reached the green in two but three putted from 35 feet, enabling de Guzman to claim the victory.

The win underscored the 24-year-old San Jose State U senior’s superb form coming off a long layoff and augured well for her bid in the LPGA Q School Final Stage, also in Florida, two weeks from now.

De Guzman, also a former SJSU top freshman who easily made it past the first two LPGA Q School elims, also took the low amateur honors in last week’s Arizona Open.

“This is quite an achievement for her, considering she just got back into serious golf last July to concentrate on her studies,” said de Guzman’s mom Tet.

A winner on the Cactus Tour and member of the second-placed Philippine team in the Queen Sirikit Cup who also saw action in the SEA Games and Putra Cup national squads, de Guzman carded back-to-back 70s to stay in contention. But after starting the final round three behind Thammaraks, she fell farther back with a bogey on the opening hole.

But she fought back with birdies on Nos. 3 and 5 then pounced on Thammaraks back-to-back bogeys from No. 5 to tie. The Thai birdied No. 9 to regain the lead but de Guzman birdied No. 11 then matched Thammaraks’ three birdies in the last six holes to force a playoff.

The Thai, however, took the top $3,000 purse.

Princess Superal blew a three-under card with bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16 and ended up tied for 10th at 213 after a 71. She received $750.

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