Korean lass humbles local aces, cops LPGT crown

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Hwang Min Jeong shows her champion and low amateur trophies after ruling the ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Ladies Classic at Mt. Malarayat’s composite courses in Batangas. Contributed photo

Hwang Min Jeong shows her champion and low amateur trophies after ruling the ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Ladies Classic at Mt. Malarayat’s composite courses in Batangas. Contributed photo

Amateur Hwang Min Jeong steeled herself up in the stretch and drilled in a seven-foot birdie putt on No. 16 to beat Princess Superal and Cyna Rodriguez by two and snare the ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Ladies Classic crown with a closing 68 at Mt. Malarayat’s composite courses in Lipa City, Batangas on Friday.

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With the pressure mounting in the closing holes, Hwang showed poise rarely seen in a 14-year-old lass, knocking down that clutch birdie then watching Superal crack with a bogey after the missing the par-4 16th green.

The two-shot swing all but settled the fierce chase for the crown that included Rodriguez as Hwang stretched her shaky one-stroke lead to a big three-shot margin before parring the last two holes to clinch the win at six-under 210.

“There was so much pressure in the last three holes and I thought I would lose my lead and the title,” said Hwang, who erased Superal’s overnight one-shot lead with a 35 at the front, moved up by one with a birdie on No. 10 then matched her fancied rival’s pars and a birdie in the next five holes before pulling away on the 16th.

“I actually didn’t watch Superal hit her shots and just concentrated on my game,” said Hwang, a mainstay of Riviera and Grade 9 student at Holy Infant School in Muntinlupa.

With her father Korean pro Hwang Yun Suk as her lone supporter, Hwang also bucked the pressure from the local gallery rooting for a Filipina victory in the event backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.

It was a sorry setback for Superal, who came into the final round upbeat of her chances for a second pro win after seizing control with a 70 in the second round. The top ICTSI-The Country Club bet fumbled with a bogey on No. 4 but went 2-up with a birdie on the par-5 No. 5 which Hwang bogeyed.

But she bogeyed the par-3 No. 8 which Hwang birdied as the two amateurs tied again for the lead at four-under before Superal dropped off the pace with a flubbed birdie putt from six feet on No. 10 then fell farther behind with another bogey on the 16th. She birdied the 18th to finish with a 71 and a 212.

In a flight ahead, Rodriguez, three behind Superal after 36 holes, rattled off two birdies at the front then birdied the 10th to tie Hwang in the lead but reeled back with a bogey-birdie-bogey-birdie roll from No. 12. She also birdied the closing par-5 hole for a 68 and tied Superal for second.

But Rodriguez took the P100,000 top purse again and secured her third straight Order of Merit crown with one leg left in the eight-stage circuit sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

Jayvie Agojo carded a 71 to finish solo fourth at 215 while Sherwood leg winner Sarah Ababa placed fifth with a 220 after a 75 followed by Lovelynn Guioguio (74-223), Apple Fudolin (73-224), Korean Kim So Un (74-226) and amateurs Yuka Saso (76-277) and Abby Arevalo (79-227).

 

Photo caption:

Hwang Min Jeong shows her champion and low amateur trophies after ruling the ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Ladies Classic at Mt. Malarayat’s composite courses in Batangas. Contributed photo

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