Chihiro Ikeda fumbled at the finish in regulation but toughened up on the third playoff hole to subdue Korean amateur Lee Ji Hyeon, clinching the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Ladies Invitational crown with a par on No. 18 of the Aoki course in General Trias, Cavite on Friday.
Ikeda blew a two-shot lead with bogeys on Nos. 16 and 18 for a 71 in blustery condition, enabling Lee, who sizzled in a flight ahead with a 66, to force a playoff at seven-under 209 at the close of the 54-hole, P750,000 tournament sponsored by ICTSI.
Erstwhile co-leader Hwang Min-jeong, who charged back with late three birdies in a four-hole stretch from No. 14, missed joining the sudden death with a bogey on the last hole. She wound up third at 210.
Ikeda and Lee parred their first two duels, both on the par-4 18th, but the Fil-Japanese proved steadier in the end, coming through with a routine par the third time out and finally claiming the victory after Lee cracked another pressure and flubbed her par-putt bid from five feet.
“It’s nice to win again although I really have to toughen up in the playoff after blowing a huge lead in regulation. I was tired but coach Bong (Lopez) told me to just stay focused and keep believing in myself,” said Ikeda.
The victory was worth another P150,000 for Ikeda and it came three months after she scored a similar sudden victory over Thai Wannasiri Sirisampant at Forest Hills last November.
Lee settled for the low amateur honors.
Princess Superal, who figured in a three-way lead with Ikeda and Hwang after 54 holes, failed to recover from early bunker woes, finishing with a 73 for fourth at 211 worth P95,000 while Thai Yoktuan Pavarisa matched par 72 for fifth at 215. She received P60,000.
Sirisampant, a former winner in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., rallied with a tournament-best 68 to tie fellow Thai Numa Gulyanamitta, who carded a 72, at 219.
Cyna Rodriguez shot a 72 for seventh at 220, Dottie Ardina wavered with a 77 for joint eighth with Thai Tirapan Yoopan, who had a 73, at 221, while Chonlada Chayanun, who had a couple of runner-up finishes in the circuit, shot a 72 for 10th at 222.
With Superal dropping off the lead with a 38, Ikeda and Hwang, who matched opening 35s, found a new rival in Lee, who moved into joint lead with a solid 30 highlighted by a pitch-in eagle on the par-4 ninth.
But Ikeda broke way with birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 as Hwang fumbled with three straight bogeys from No. 11 and Lee dropped strokes on Nos. 12 and 15.
Just when she thought she had the crown in the bag, Ikeda lost her touch and bogeyed the par-5 16th which she bogeyed in the first two days and Hwang bounced back with those three birdies and Lee kept her bid going with back-to-back birdies from No. 16.
But Hwang failed to sustain her late charge and holed out with a bogey, leaving Ikeda and Lee to dispute the crown via playoff in the third leg of the circuit backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZGm PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.