Two victories to mark a maiden Ladies Philippine Golf Tour campaign proved enough to net Harmie Constantino the Order of Merit trophy but it was her two failed title cracks that should make her tougher and stronger when the pro circuit resumes in 2022.
In a season filled with uncertainties due to pandemic, the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. still put up eight tournaments that produced six winners with three others ending their chase for the elusive crown and a 14-year-old prodigy closing out the year with a near-impeccable display of shot-making on her way to posting a landslide win that nearly shattered the Tour record.
But the challenging season belonged to Constantino, who highlighted her pro debut with a shock two-shot victory over multi-titled Princess Superal at Eagle Ridge-Aoki last March before play was abruptly suspended due to health concerns.
“I didn’t even have the OOM in mind when I was playing. I just came out there and played,” said Constantino, who earned P609,750 on two wins to top the OOM derby.
“I had few opportunities where I came up short. But it only showed that there’s still a lot more to learn,” she added, referring to her runner-up efforts at Riviera-Couples and Midlands.
Superal did redeem herself by edging Chanelle Avaricio by one at Sherwood Hills when the circuit resumed last July then repeated over the latter by winning the Eagle Ridge-Norman leg by three.
Another wave of Covid-19 cases forced the Tour to take another break, this time a long three-month hiatus. And while Superal opted to shift her focus on the LPGA of Japan Tour which however got stymied by health issues, Constantino made sure to stay in shape and she underscored this by holding off amateur Mafy Singson by one when the circuit marked another restart back at Eagle Ridge-Aoki.
But no one dominated the next four tournaments as Sunshine Baraquiel, a lady pilot who said she had soon realized her heart was in golf and not in flying, reigned in wicked conditions at Highlands; Avaricio snapped a couple of bridesmaid finishes with a seven-stroke romp at Riviera-Couples, and Daniella Uy made it three-in-row for first-time winners following a five-shot roll to victory at Riviera-Langer.
But as Constantino primed herself up for a plausible three-title romp to close out the season at Midlands, and Baraquiel, Avaricio, and Uy eyed a follow-up to their breakthrough wins, Rianne Malixi came in to foil their bids – in near-record-breaking fashion.
Coming into the event in top form following a series of stints abroad, Malixi led from the get-go in blustery conditions, pacing Baraquiel by three despite a 73 after 18 holes then all but wrapping up the championship after pulling away by nine over Uy with a 70 in the second round.
The final 18 holes proved to be a coronation walk for the 2020 national stroke play champion, who dominated the Se Ri Pak Desert Junior of the AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) in California. She actually tied Superal’s record 16-shot victory over Cyna Rodriguez at Highlands in 2018 in one stretch but a late miscue thwarted her bid to match or surpass it.
She finished with a 15-stroke triumph over Constantino in an imposing victory tipped to further boost her confidence when she launches her drive to defend the national stroke play crown she won in 2020 in January at the Manila Southwoods.
Though she missed her target of snatching a pro crown four times, Singson’s sweep of the last four low amateur honors spoke well of her vast potentials to emerge a star in the years to come.
Avaricio finished second in the OOM race with P539,000 in winnings while Uy pocketed P489,750 for third followed by Baraquiel with P474, 150 while Marvi Monsalve ended up fifth with P413,550 as Chihiro Ikeda, who skipped the last leg for an early holiday break in Davao, dropped to sixth with P412,500.