Amolkan Phalajivin finally put it all together and got back at Cyna Rodriguez after two blowout losses, firing a near-flawless two-under 69 to capture the ICTSI Splendido Ladies Invitational crown via a three-stroke romp at Splendido Taal Golf Club in Tagaytay on Friday.
Phalajivin, one shot behind Rodriguez and amateur Yuka Saso after 36 holes, leaned on a three-shot swing on the par-4 No. 2, which she birdied off the fringe, surging ahead by four at the turn and then thwarting the four-leg winner’s fightback with a tap-in birdie on No. 14 for the victory.
A missed green bogey on the par-3 17th ruined what could’ve been a perfect round for the comely Thai shotmaker, who stunned Rodriguez with another birdie on No. 3 for a solid 33 at the turn then came through with gutsy pars and a birdie to finally nail the elusive win on the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.
“My birdie on No. 2 from the fringe set the tone and my putting was simply superb,” said the 26-year-old Phalajivin, who also drilled in an 18-footer on No. 3 and knocked in a two-footer on the 14th to finish with a 69 and a three-over 216 worth P100,000.
The win also erased the stigma of her 11-and 10-shot setbacks to Rodriguez at ICTSI John Hay and ICTSI Mt. Malarayat legs and should make her the marked player when the circuit, sponsored by International Container Terminal Services. Inc. and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., resumes on Oct. 14 at Valley Golf.
Rodriguez, who came into the event oozing with confidence following three straight romps in Baguio, Batangas and Eagle Ridge in Cavite after topping the kickoff leg at Orchard, closed out with a 73 and settled for runner-up honors at 219 worth P70,000.
She actually looked headed for another big finish as she took the solo lead with a birdie on the first hole but dropped two strokes on the par-4 No. 2 after an errant drive. Although Rodriguez matched Phalajivin’s birdie on the third, she fell farther behind back-to-back bogeys from No. 5.
Four down with nine holes left, Rodriguez birdied Nos. 12 and 14 to move within two but the unflappable Phalajivin matched her rival’s birdie on the 14th to preserve a three-shot lead and secured the victory as Rodriguez also bogeyed No. 17.
“She [Phalajivin] played solid,” said Rodriguez, who buried long birdie putts on birdies on Nos. 1 and 3 that somewhat negated her double-bogey blackeye on the second but made faulty shots on Nos. 5 and 6. She later hinted at a burnout after racking up three straight wins, adding she will tinker with her swing during the break in the circuit backed by Nike, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.
Three shots behind Phalajivin at the start, Chihiro Ikeda fell by four at the turn despite a 34 but reeled farther back with a double-bogey mishap on an errant third shot on the par-4 No. 13. She, however, birdied two of the last three holes to save a 70 and salvaged third place at 220 worth P45,000.
“I missed a five-foot par putt on No. 2 but was able to recover with birdies on Nos. 3 and 7. If not for my double-bogey on the 13th, I could’ve threatened a bit,” said Ikeda, who was however happy with her strong finish despite hobbled by back problems.
Saso never recovered after fumbling with double-bogeys on Nos. 4 and 7, dropping three more strokes on Nos. 9, 11 and 13 with only a birdie to show on No 17. She limped home with a 77 and tumbled to fourth at 223, failing to match fellow Team ICTSI mainstay Pauline del Rosario’s runner-up finish at Eagle Ridge two weeks ago.
Korean Kwon Seo Yon carded a 73 and placed fifth at 227 while amateurs Sam Martirez, shooting a 76, and Korean Ko Euna, carding a 75, took the next two spots at 229 and 230, respectively. Second leg winner Jayvie Agojo made a 75 to tie Sarah Ababa, who had a 78, at ninth at 231.