MAFY SINGSON had nerves of steel in closing out with a 71—more than enough for Daniella Uy and Lois Kaye Go to overcome—to emerge champion in the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) Valley Golf Challenge in Antipolo City on Thursday.
It was way off her superb 69 in the weather-suspended play that drove her past a throng of rivals for a one-stroke lead victory over Uy and Korean amateur Min Yeong Kim for her second Ladies Philippine Golf Tour (LPGT) trophy with a 54-hole total of 219.
Uy bogeyed three of the first five holes but went on a three-birdie binge from No. 10, only to struggle with a bogey-birdie-bogey run from No. 14 for a 73 and a 222 while Sarah Ababa matched Singson’s second round three-under card to tie Go, who put in a 71, at 223.
But while Singson claimed the championship trophy, Uy, who scored her maiden win at Riviera in 2021, took the top purse of P90,000 while Ababa pocketed P64,500 as the second-best pro in the sixth leg of this year’s circuit sponsored by ICTSI.
“Since I was leading most of the way, I just played it steady and told myself, ‘if it’s for me, it’s for me,’” said Singson, who upstaged pros Harmie Constantino and absentees Chanelle Avaricio and Sunshine Baraquiel by one for her breakthrough victory at Splendido Taal last year.
Thoughts of a second win hardly crossed her mind with a game that borders on mediocrity the past few months. She ended up tied at 11th at Caliraya Springs and wound up joint seventh at Villamor while faintly helping the national team in the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia.
Add to that an opening 79 at the challenging Valley South Tuesday, things indeed didn’t seem to look good or promising for the Team ICTSI spearhead.
Reymon Jaraula, meanwhile, dealt with Ira Alido’s unceasing jab and Clyde Mondilla’s searing strike with the poise of a seasoned campaigner to remain on top by two with a 72 ad zero in on the men’s crown.
The Del Monte star did pull away by five shots with a solid frontside 34 but bogeys on Nos. 10 and 18 enabled Alido, who endured a wild five-birdie, five-bogey round for his version of an even-par round at Valley South, and a charging Mondilla, who turned in a second straight 69 highlighted by an eagle on No. 7 for the second straight day, to set the stage for a furious chase for the crown worth P360,000.
“I made a good start but I struggled with my putting again at the back and missed a number of [birdie] chances,” said Jaraula, whose even-par round and a nine-under 207 aggregate moved him 18 holes away from posting his second career victory.
Singson made a big U-turn in the second round, bucking all the odds, including tough conditions at the hilly layout and a two-hour long weather delay to produce a 69, the huge 10-shot recovery netting her the lead which she never relinquished.
While she kicked off her final round bid with a spate of pars, flightmates Uy and Kim, just one stroke behind after 36 holes, hobbled with three bogeys (Go) and a bogey and a double bogey (Kim) in the first six holes.
Singson mastered the par-5 No. 7 and birdied it for the third straight day to firm up her lead and chipped in for another birdie on No. 16 but came up short of the closing par-3 hole for her lone bogey.
Go, four shots adrift at the start of the final round, made a run of three birdies against a bogey after 12 holes to take the challenger’s role. But the many-time national mainstay fell back with a bogey on No. 13 and parred the rest for a 35-36.
First round leader Chihiro Ikeda pulled to within one with a birdie on No. 2 but limped with a double-bogey, bogey, double-bogey skid from No. 7 and ended up with a 79 and a 229, four strokes behind Luisita Champion and Villamor PH Masters winner Constantino, who failed to recover from back-to-back 76s and wound up with a 225 after a 73.
Mikha Fortune skied to an 80 after a 71 in the second round as the Oklahoma U product placed eighth at 230 in her pro debut while Pamela Mariano shot a 75 to tie for ninth at 231 with Gretchen Villacencio and Martina Miñoza, who groped for 78 and 80, respectively.
With second pro win, Singson, who also became the second amateur to win after six legs following Rianne Malixi’s romp in Iloilo, remained uncommitted as to her pro bid, saying: “Maybe next year but unsure yet.”
“I think I need to shoot a three-under to win (again),” added Jaraula, hoping to find his (putting) touch in his biggest test since upending Tony Lascuna on the second extra hole to snare the Pueblo de Oro crown in 2019.
Ranged against Alido and Lascuna after emerging on top of a weather-suspended play Wednesday, Jaraula said he didn’t flinch, stressing: “I wasn’t rattled since I’ve been playing with them for quite some time.”
Bogeys on Nos. 2 and 3 likewise failed to fluster Alido, who battled back with three straight birdies from No. 5 for the second straight time, although the Bacolod leg winner scrambled with a two-birdie, three-bogey card in the last 10 holes for a pair of 36s and a 209.
“Those (miscues) didn’t really affect me that much because I knew I could turn it around soon with all the par-5s coming up,” said Alido, whose rebound, however, got stalled by three flubbed birdie putts from short range.
Still, he liked his chances.
“I just need to put the pressure on Reymon with my shots and get better with my recovery shots,” said Alido.
Completing Friday’s championship flight is Mondilla, another Del Monte ace whose frontside 32 put him back in the thick of things at 211 after starting the day seven shots off the pace despite a three-under card halfway through the P2 million championship put up by ICTSI.
But errant drives and botched putts led to his two backside bogeys and Mondilla missed joining Alido at second although he stayed within striking distance for a shot at ending a long title spell in the Philippine Golf Tour.
“I mishit my drives on those two holes and failed to get up-and-down,” said Mondilla, who chipped in for eagle from seven yards on the par-5 No. 7 after birdying two of the first four holes.
Jhonnel Ababa, the Villamor Philippine Masters winner, shot a 70 to tie Japanese Atsushi Ueda and Korean Chon Koo Kang at 212 after 71 and 72, respectively, while Keanu Jahns carded a second straight 70 to join Lascuna, who drifted with a 73, at 213 and Lloyd Go also fired a 71 for a share of ninth at 214 with Korean Min Seong Kim, who made a 73.
For a while, Ueda poised himself for a big finish with a frontside 33 and a six-under overall card. He added another birdie on the 11th to crowd the local big guns but made four straight bogeys from No. 13 before recovering a stroke on the 17th for a 71.
Image credits: Nonie Reyes