• Ikeda ends spell, romps to 3-shot Orchard win

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    Chihiro Ikeda: Champ at last CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Chihiro Ikeda: Champ at last CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Chihiro Ikeda finally nailed the elusive win on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, completing a wire-to-wire triumph in the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship with a closing 73 for a three-stroke victory over Lovelyn Guioguio at Orchard’s Player’s course in Dasmariñas, Cavite on Wednesday.

    With a five-shot lead at the start of the final round, Ikeda played pressure-free all day, even posting a seven-hot margin with a 34 start before slowing down in the tougher backside which she tackled in three-over par, enabling Guioguio to close the gap at the finish.

    But not even Guioguio’s three-birdie binge to kick of her backside charge and Ikeda’s three-bogey mishap in a five-hole stretch from No. 11 could alter the outcome of the P750,000 tournament sponsored by ICTSI as Guioguio, who pulled to within two after 13 holes, bogeyed the par-3 14 then watched the Fil-Japanese birdie the 17th to wrap up the championship.

    Ikeda, a multi-titled amateur but who could not seem to put it all together as a pro and toiled in the first three years of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., finished with a 221 and pocketed the top P150,000 purse.

    “It’s nice to finally get this victory. It’s been a long ride,” said Ikeda, a former SEA Games gold medalist who has had a number of fold-ups as a pro, the last at Beverly Place Classic last April which she led only to succumb and lose to amateurs Bernice Olivarez-Ilas and Sam Martirez.

    Guioguio wound up with a 71 and secured second place at 224 worth P95,000 while Jayvie Agojo, a former leg winner in the circuit, backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Champion, TaylorMade and Pacsports, turned in a 74 and ended up third at 227. She took home P60,000.

    Amateur Marvi Monsalve carded a second straight 77 and finished solo fourth at 230 while Korean amateur Hwang Min-jeong, a pre-tournament favorite but never recovered from a 77 start, shot a 75 to snare fifth place at 231.

    Sarah Ababa, who scored a breakthrough at Sherwood last year, came in sixth at 232 after a 76 but took the fourth place purse worth P52,000 while Korean Euna Koh and former Philippine Ladies Open champion Heidi Chua finished tied for seventh at 235 after a 74 and 75, respectively. Each received P43,750,

    Apple Fudolin also rallied with one of the day’s best 71s and ended up tied for ninth with last year’s Luisita stop winner Cristina Corpus, who skied to an 81, at 238 worth P37,250 each.

    Ikeda birdied the opening hole to douse whatever hopes Guioguio, Agojo and Monsalve had for a comeback and virtually secured the win with back-to-back birdies from No. 8 that negated her bogey mishap on No. 5.

    But Guioguio refused to give up despite falling by seven at the turn, birdying the first three holes at the back and gaining four shots as Ikeda stumbled with a bogey on No. 11.

    A clutch Guioguio par coupled with Ikeda’s bogey on No. 13 put the former within two but the former failed to go up-and-down on the 14th, giving Ikeda another three-shot cushion. They both bogeyed No. 15 and Ikeda went 4-up again with a birdie on the 17th before dropping another stroke on the closing par-5 hole.

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