Princess Superal broke a near two-year spell on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour in smashing fashion, ruling the P1 million ICTSI Tagaytay Highlands Ladies Challenge via a record 16-stroke victory over Cyna Rodriguez in Tagaytay on Friday.
Finally flashing the form that won her a number of pro tournaments as an amateur and as a newly-minted pro, Superal tamed the wind-raked Highlands layout with solid driving and superb iron play, netting four birdies that negated a lone bogey on No. 4 for a closing three-under 67 and outclassing the field that included a slew of Thai aces with a 54-hole total of three-under 207 worth P250,000.
That was whopping 16 shots over Rodriguez, who hardly recovered from two bogeys in the first five holes with a birdie on the sixth and limped with a closing 40 and a 75 for 223. She took home P120,000.
,”said Superal, who has had a number of top five finishes since winning last in late 2016 via a one-stroke victory over then amateur Pauline del Rosario at Eastridge.
Superal’s feat likewise erased the previous largest winning margin of 15 which Thai and now-LPGA campaigner Meechai Wichanee posted at Splendido in 2015 over compatriot Walailak Satarak and former leg winner Sarah Ababa.
The runaway victory should also make Superal the player to beat in next week’s LPGT leg at Riviera, her final local tournament before kicking off her 2018 campaign in the Symetra Tour in the IOA Championship in Beaumont, California on April 6-8.
Like Rodriguez, Chihiro Ikeda, who grabbed the first round lead despite playing with a slight wrist injury, failed to rebound from a poor start marred by a triple bogey on the par-5 No. 4, finishing with a horrible 40-43 (83) and ending up third at 228 worth P85,000.
Amolkan Phalajivin, the first Thai winner in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. in 2014 at Splendido, bogeyed the last two holes for a 75 but emerged as the top finisher among the aces from Thailand at fourth at 231.
She nipped Tiranan Yoopan, who settled for fifth at 232 despite a 72 while Kristine Torralba closed out with back-to-back pars to edge Korean Bang Choeun by two in their spirited battle for low amateur honors in the fifth leg of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI.
Torralba closed out with a 77 to finish sixth at 233 while Bang bogeyed the last four holes for a 76 and ended up eighth at 235 behind Thai Saruttaya Ngam-usawan, who had a 234 after a 73.
Ababa carded a 78 and finished tied for ninth at 237 with Sarinee Thitiratanakorn, also of Thailand, who fumbled with an 83 in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZGm PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.
Five ahead of Ikeda after 36 holes, Superal played pressure-free all day, coming through with back-to-back birdies from No. 2 and bouncing back from a bogey on the par-5 fourth hole with birdies on Nos. 11 and 14 to turn in the tournament-best 67 card and post the circuit’s biggest winning margin in six years.
With Ikeda bowing out early, Rodriguez tried to press her bid but fumbled with bogeys in her desperate hunt for birdies. While Superal mastered the backside with a solid 34, the former three-time LPGT Order of Merit winner reeled farther back with three straight bogeys from No. 12 and aided Superal’s record winning margin with another bogey on the 17th.