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.
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).
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