Pauline del Rosario shrugged off Princess Superal’s early challenge and bucked the day-long gale-force wind to rule the ICTSI Pradera Verde Ladies Classic in emphatic fashion at the Pradera Golf and Country Club in Lubao, Pampanga on Thursday.
Del Rosario nearly blew a three-stroke lead with an early bogey and a Superal birdie on No. 4 but recovered in time with gutsy play in severe condition, pouncing on her chief rival’s backside meltdown with back-to-back birdies from No. 15 to shoot a 71 and post a whopping seven-stroke victory over Superal and Thai Tirapan Yoopan.
“I knew Ces can win at any given day, even at the last minute. But the wind was my toughest challenge, it’s too strong,” said Del Rosario, whose closing one-under card gave her a 54-hole total of nine-under 209. “I told myself that if I could play through it (wind), I could win so I took it one shot at a time and went for the fairway and the green.”
The ploy worked as Del Rosario rebounded from a 37 start with a slew of pars before hitting two late birdies to secure the win, her third in her rookie year after dominating the Orchard and Baguio stops of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI.
Superal, who assumed the challenger’s role with a 67 in the second round, pulled to within one with a birdie on No. 4 and after Del Rosario dropped a stroke on the third. But she failed to sustain her charge in the wind, bogeying No. 6 then falling farther behind with another bogey on No. 14 before yielding the crown with a double-bogey on the par-3 15th.
Taking the cue, Del Rosario birdied Nos. 15 and 16 inside six feet, turning what was expected to be a down-to-the-wire finish into a runaway triumph worth another P150,000.
Superal wound up with a 75 for a 214 and settled for joint runner-up with Yoopan, who missed snatching solo second with a double-bogey on the final hole for a 74.
Cyna Rodriguez, on a break from the Symetra Tour with Superal, fired the day’s only other 71 to claim fourth place at 215 while former leg winner Chihiro Ikeda carded a 74 for a 222 and ended up fifth in the seventh leg of the eighth-stage circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Sofia Chabon skied to a 77 but her 226 netted The Country Club ace the low amateur honors as teammate and last year’s LPGT Beverly Place leg champion Bernice Olivarez-Ilas limped with an 82 and dropped to seventh at 229.
Apple Fudolin made a 78 for a 231 for eighth while Korean Euna Koh, who beat Del Rosario for the Luisita leg title last April, shot a 76 for 234 for ninth and Gretchen Villacencio hobbled with an 85 for a 237 for 10th in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.