The Ladies Philippine Golf Tour is doubling the size of the ICTSI Eagle Ridge at Aoki Invitational purse to P1.5 million, perking up the chase for top honors in the 54-hole championship beginning Tuesday in Gen. Trias, Cavite.
Chanelle Avaricio, winner of three of the first six legs of this year’s LPGT, banners the compact 18-player field all primed up for a three-day battle of shotmaking, putting and wits on a daunting course kept in top form all-season long.
Harmie Constantino, who logged her first two career victories at Aoki in her pro debut last year, seeks to snap out of a mini-slump and extend her reign at one of Eagle Ridge’s four championship courses, while Chihiro Ikeda, with a victory and a runner-up finish in the last three stops of the circuit put up by ICTSI, also exudes confidence and ready for another crack at the crown.
Pamela Mariano is also due for a big finish after a string of Top 5 finishes while former leg winner Sarah Ababa hopes to build on her joint runner-up effort the last time out at Pradera, and the likes of Marvi Monsalve, Gretchen Villacencio and Florence Bisera, along with rookies Martina Miñoza and Lesley Icoy, are also eager to go all-out for the elusive win this week.
But nobody comes into the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.-organized event with as much fire and poise than Avaricio, who dominated the Pradera Classic by six on a Tour record eight-under 64 in the first round. The former Alabama State U product, who nailed her first LPGT win at Riviera Couples, also in runaway fashion, last year, edged multi-titled Princess Superal in sudden death at Hallow Ridge then held off Ikeda by one at Caliraya Springs last April.
A third placer in the kickoff leg at Luisita ruled by amateur Rianne Malixi, Avaricio finished solo second to Ikeda at Mt. Malarayat and shared runner-up honors with Sunshine Baraquiel and Constantino at Splendido Taal, easily making her the player to beat in the event also held simultaneously with the men’s tour.
“My goal is to keep on improving and hopefully, produce more wins,” said Avaricio, eyeing to double her P90,000 Pradera winnings this week.
Meanwhile, amateurs Eagle Ace Superal and Mikha Fortuna of Team ICTSI join the title chase along with pros Shery Villacensio, Lovelynn Guioguio, Lucy Landicho, Eva Miñoza, Kristine Fleetwood and Korean Joyoung Yang.