Mexico, Pampanga—Dottie Ardina gave her upcoming LPGA Tour campaign a big morale boost, claiming the ICTSI Beverly Place Ladies Classic crown in emphatic fashion on a closing 67 for a six-stroke romp over Pauline del Rosario at the Beverly Place Golf Club here yesterday.
Two-up over a pair of Thai rivals after 36 holes, Ardina hiked her lead to four over Chonlada Chayanun with back-to-back birdies from No. 2 and though she slipped with a bogey on the par-3 No. 8, no one failed to cash in, enabling the 25-year-old Canlubang ace to scoot home to victory on a 32-35 card she spiked with three birdies in the last six holes.
“This victory means so much to me,” said Ardina after capping her domination with a second straight four-under card for a 54-hole total of seven-under 206 worth P150,000.
More importantly, the win primed Ardina up for her return to the LPGA Tour as a full-card holder starting in the Handa Vic Open on Feb. 7-10 in Victoria, Australia and the Australian Open on Feb. 14-17 in Grange.
“I needed to build on my confidence since I am facing the best golfers in these two tournaments. I have to be in top form, mentally and physically,” she added.
Ardina’s triumph also broke the foreign bets’ strong start in the seventh season of the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour put up by ICTSI after then Korean amateur Lee Ji Hyeon topped the kickoff leg in Baguio last October and Thai veteran dominated the Pradera Verde field last December, while providing some push for the locals’ bid when the tour resumes at Splendido on Jan. 29-31.
Four shots off Ardina at the start of the final round, del Rosario pressed her bid in a flight ahead with birdies on Nos. 6 and 14 but the 2017 LPGT Order of Merit champion could only come closest at four as Ardina put the outcome beyond doubt with birdies on Nos. 13, 14 and 16 before opting to settle for pars in the closing par-5 holes.
Del Rosario, who racked up four victories in her imposing rookie LPGT season two years ago, shot the day’s only other two-under par card of 69 for a 212 as she took runner-up honors worth P95,000 in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.
Bracing for a tight finish, Ardina put the pressure on her pursuers with those early birdie binge, which Chayanun and Punpaka Phuntumabamrung had failed to match, allowing the Filipina shotmaker to cruise to the lopsided triumph, her first in a long while after dominating the circuit’s inaugural season in 2013 with back-to-back wins at The Country Club and Canlubang.
Phuntumabamrung, tied with Chayanun after two rounds, faded with three bogeys although she put up some semblance of a fight with two birdies in the last four holes to save a 72 for solo third at 213 while Chayanun hobbled with a 75 for fourth at 216.
Reigning LPGT Order of Merit winner Princess Superal hardly recovered from a second round 74 with a 73, the same output put in by Ornnicha Konsunthea as they tied for fifth at 217 with Thai Alisara Wedchakama carding a 73 to tie Daniella Uy and Mookharin Ladgratok, who shot identical 74s, at 219.
Narisara Kerdrit rallied with a 72 for a 220 as she salvaged 10th place in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Empire Golf and Sports and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.
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