Trece Martires, Cavite—Harmie Constantino outduelled Princess Superal in a clash of aces, ramming in an eagle on No. 15 to spike a four-under 68 and seize a one-stroke lead over Superal and Chihiro Ikeda after 36 holes of the ICTSI Sherwood Ladies Challenge at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club here yesterday.
Constantino, who matched Superal’s fiery start of three birdies in the first nine holes, missed gaining a two-shot cushion heading to the final round as she holed out with a missed green bogey for a 33-35 round and a 142 aggregate, enabling Superal and erstwhile leader Ikeda to stay within a stroke at 143s after a 69 and 73, respectively.
Chanelle Avaricio likewise kept her breakthrough bid in the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour going, rallying from a two-bogey card with back-to-back birdies from No. 15 to save a second straight 72 for a 144 although Gretchen Villacencio, who also matched par 72 in the first round, reeled back with a 75 for a 147.
Daniella Uy, a former Junior World champion and veteran of LPGA of Taiwan Tour, also missed closing in on the fancied bets with a double-bogey on No. 16 as she ended up with a 73 for solo sixth at 150, eight strokes off the pace.
But the chase for the top P112,000 purse in the first of four tournaments organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. in Cavite in the next five weeks couldn’t get any tighter with Constantino, Superal and ikeda completing a top-tier threesome and Avaricio and Villacencio ready to pounce from second-to-last flight.
“I started off well and kind of played steady from there,” said Constantino, who hit a superb 6-iron second shot from 165 yards on No. 15 then drilled in a 20-foot eagle putt to go 1-up over Ikeda and 2-shots clear of Superal.
That also put the former Univ. of Georgia standout closer to a second straight crown after launching her pro career with a two-stroke victory over Superal at Eagle Ridge last March before the PGTI suspended the tour due to the surge of coronavirus in NCR Plus.
As Ikeda slipped with a two-over card after 10 holes, the highly-rated pair took the lead with a pair of 33s before Constantino pounced on her arch rival’s bogey on No. 12 to take command although Superal tied her again with a birdie on the 14th.
Despite slipping to joint second, Superal liked her chances for snapping a pair of runner-up finishes after ruling one of the two Riviera bubble tournaments in LPGT’s first restart after an eight-month hiatus late last year. She vowed to dish out her best in a final round tipped to go down to the last shot and putt.
“I’ll stay with my routine, whatever happens,” said Superal. “I’ll do my best and take care of my shots.”
Ikeda battled back from a two-over card with two birdies, including a two-putt feat on No. 15 which she eagled in her first round 70, although she missed forcing a tie with a bogey on No. 18 after Constantino holed out with her lone miscue in a flight ahead.
“I’ll just play it steady tomorrow (today) but will attack if there’s a chance,” said the Fil-Japanese, who last won at Midlands in 2019 before a hand injury hampered in her succeeding campaigns.
Meanwhile, Burberry Zhang skied to an 82 after a 77 for a 159 and kept a two-stroke lead over Korean Jane Jeong, who pooled a 161 after an 81, in the race for amateur honors with the duo staying behind pro Sunshine Baraquiel, who limped with an 80 for a 158.