Pauline del Rosario held sway with clutch putts at the back then pounced on Chihiro Ikeda’s late-hole mishaps to fashion out a four-stroke victory with a 64 in the ICTSI Baguio Ladies Classic at the Baguio Country Club in Baguio on Friday.
Del Rosario kept an overnight four-shot lead up to No. 10 but dropped two strokes on the lone par-4 at the back on No. 11, enabling Ikeda to threaten within two. But she matched her Fil-Japanese rival’s birdie on the next and cruised to another win despite a bogey on No. 16 as Ikeda faded with double-bogey-bogey miscues on Nos. 16 and 17 to likewise finish with a three-over card.
“I never doubted myself even when the others were catching up. I knew some of them would make a charge. But I just told myself to match their intensity,” said the 19-year-old Del Rosario, whose seven-over 190 winning total completed a back-to-back feat following her breakthrough five-shot triumph over amateur Eagle Ace Superal at Orchard three weeks ago.
The victory, worth another P250,000, is also expected to boost the former Philippine Ladies Open champion’s confidence as she primes up for the rich Ladies European Thailand Championship next week against the region’s and Ladies European Tour’s leading players.
“I’m happy to have played here. I got to sharpen my short game extensively in preparation for Thailand next week,” said del Rosario, who campaign is backed by Golf Depot’s Joey Mendoza and ICTSI.
Ikeda, last year’s Orchard leg winner, had hoped to complete a big backside charge after pulling to within one with a birdie on the 12th. But that hardly rattled del Rosario, who displayed grace under pressure and matched that feat to keep a two-shot cushion.
After the duo traded pars in the next three, Ikeda dropped two shots on No. 16 in pursuit of a birdie, paving the way for another del Rosario romp in the P3 million sponsored by ICTSI.
Ikeda also wound up with a 64 for second at 194 worth P120,000 while Thai Ananya Vitayakonkomol rallied with two birdies in the last five holes to shoot the tournament-best one-under 60. She salvaged joint third with compatriot Tiranan Yoopan, who carded a 63, at 197. Each got P80,500.
Apple Fudolin, who shared the first round win with del Rosario but fell back with a second round 68, bounced back into early contention with a birdie-birdie feat from No. 4. But the Del Monte bet lost steam in the closing holes, dropping seven strokes in the last eight and limped with a 67. She ended up fifth at 199 and received P65,000
Thai Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang also wavered at the back and signed a 64 for sixth at 202 while compatriot Numa Gulyanamitta shot a 68 to share seventh with best amateur Kristine Torralba, who came in with a 69, at 204.
Another Thai Chatprapa Siriprakob wound up ninth at 206 after a 65 while former leg winners Fil-Am Cristina Corpus and Sarah Ababa made a 67 and 72, respectively, and finished tied at 10th in the 54-hole tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.