Pauline del Rosario re-staked her claim as the country’s hottest player, fending off an early scare from Chihiro Ikeda and rolling to another seven-stroke victory over Cyna Rodriguez despite a 76 in the ICTSI Splendido Ladies Classic at Taal Splendido Golf Club in Tagaytay on Thursday.
Her overnight eight-shot lead cut into half with a two-over card coupled with Ikeda’s two-under round after 10 holes, del Rosario pounced on her rival’s poor play on the par-5 11th where she gained two shots despite a double-bogey mishap. It was cruise control from there as del Rosario matched her opening 38 for that four-over finish and a 54-hole total of 217.
Ikeda, who nipped Thai Wannasiri Sirisampant to snap a long title spell at Forest Hills two weeks ago, signed up with a 9 on No. 11 after blowing her chance to further close in. She never recovered her bearing and bogeyed two of the last seven and limped with a 77, dropping to fifth instead at 226.
The victory, worth another P150,000, was the fourth for the rookie pro, who scored a breakthrough at Orchard and ruled the Baguio stop of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. She then dominated a tough field at Pradera Verde, beating no less than Symetra Tour campaigner and many-time LPGT winner Princess Superal by seven.
“I learned a lot from this victory, particularly on playing relaxed while staying focused,” said del Rosario, whose pro campaign is backed by Golf Depot and Ping.
She, however, stressed the need to improve on her long game, putting and concentration as she heads to the range starting today to prime up for the rich ICTSI Philippine Ladies Masters at The Country Club in two weeks time.
After pulling to within four with eight holes left, Ikeda failed to cash in on del Rosario’s errant drive on the 11th, going for the green on her second shot instead of settling for regulation. She found the bunker and hit a skulled shot into the hazard.
While del Rosario salvaged a 7, Ikeda crumbled and finished with a 9.
Nine shots behind after 36 holes, Rodriguez also moved within four with a frontside 36 and a birdie on No. 11. But the former three-time Ladies Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit winner dropped two strokes on the par-4 13th and bogeyed the next to finish with a 74 for second at 224.
Princess Superal also blew a 35 start with two bogeys in the last six holes as she settled for a 73, still the best in another wind-blown day, and ended up tied for third with Thai Chonlada Chayanun, who shot a 75, at 225.
Sirisampant made a 74 and wound up sixth at 227 while this year’s LPGT Luisita leg winner Euna Koh of Korea skied to a 77 for a 230 followed by Thais Sarinee Thitratanakorn (75-233) and Ananya Vitayakonkomol (79-235) and Gretchen Villacencio (82-236) in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.