Superal prevails

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PRINCESS SUPERAL shrugged off rookie Abby Arevalo’s early threat to rule the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour’s return in the new normal with a five-shot victory in the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) Riviera Invitational Challenge at the Couples course in Silang, Cavite, on Thursday.

Bracing for a cruise after staying on top by five through 36 holes Wednesday, the reigning Order of Merit champion saw Arevalo pull within three with back-to-back opening hole birdies which the latter, however, squandered with a double-bogey mishap on No. 3.

That all but settled the outcome of the 54-hole championship, the first of two bubble tournaments put up by ICTSI to mark pro golf’s resumption after an eight-month hiatus due to pandemic, as Superal birdied No. 6 and matched Arevalo’s birdie on the ninth to go 6-up again at the turn.

The multi-titled Superal, whose victories included last year’s romp at John Hay where she also reigned as an amateur in the Ladies Professional Golf Tour (LPGT) inaugurals in 2013, then switched off the attack mode at the back, settling for a one-birdie, one-bogey game for a 34-36. She wound up with a seven-under 209 worth P72,000, spiking her bid with a brilliant eagle-aided opening 67 that propelled her to a six-shot lead over Arevalo.

It was cruise control from there for the 2014 US Girls’ Junior champ as nobody from the compact field could mount any serious challenge with Arevalo ending up matching Superal’s final round output of 35-35 for a 214 for second, marking her maiden campaign with P52,000 in earnings.

Pauline del Rosario, who dominated her rookie season in 2017 with four victories on her way to clinching the OOM diadem, blew a two-under card at the front with three bogeys in the last nine holes, ending up with a 73 for third at 221 while Chanelle Avaricio, the other rookie in the fold, rammed in three straight birdies from No. 3 but dropped a stroke on the par-5 11th and finished with a 70 for fourth at 222.

Chihiro Ikeda, the OOM winner in 2016, limped with a second 76 in three days and wound up fifth at 227 followed by Marvi Monsalve, who pooled a 229 after a 75, three-time OOM titlist Cyna Rodriguez (75-233) and Gretchen Villacencio (75-237).

Superal, who missed out on her campaign in the Japan Step-Up Tour due to travel restrictions and quarantine procedures, seeks to sweep the next LPGT event slated from December 8 to 11 at the adjacent Langer course.

Tony Lascuña, meanwhile, flashed vintage form to fire a bogey-free 69 then watched Rupert Zaragosa fumble with a last-hole bogey to force a tie as Joenard Rates rallied late to stalk the leaders in the third round of the ICTSI Riviera Invitational Challenge at the Couples.

Lascuña rebounded from a par-game (72) in the second round with three birdies and preserved a solid 35-34 card by rescuing a couple of pars that put the multi-titled Davaoeño back in the hunt for the crown in pro golf’s resumption after a long layoff due to the global health crisis.

Zaragosa, who got past first round leader Rates with a 69 Wednesday, threatened to pull away with birdies in the first two holes and clung onto a one-stroke lead despite slowing down with a two-birdie, two-bogey in the next 14 holes.

But he stumbled with a bogey on the 18th and finished with a 71, enabling the four-time OOM winner Lascuña to gain a share of the lead at 212 heading to the last 18 holes of the P2.5 million championship also put up by ICTSI and organized by the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.

Rates, who dropped off the leaderboard with a second round 73 after a 69, checked a roller-coaster round of three birdies against four bogeys with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 as he saved a 71 and stayed just a stroke behind the joint leaders at 213.

That set up a three-cornered fight for the top P350,000 purse although Dutch Guido Van der Valk and young Ira Alido stayed in the title chase with 215s after matching par 72s and former OOM winners Jobim Carlos and Miguel Tabuena stood four strokes off with even par 144s after a 70 and 73, respectively.

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