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LPGT: Avaricio claims third title, takes Pradera Classic by 6


Chanelle Avaricio completed a dominant campaign to nail her third victory in the last five Ladies Philippine Golf Tour events, beating Sarah Ababa and Chihiro Ikeda by six on a closing 72 in Lubao, Pampanga on Friday and adding the ICTSI Pradera Verde Ladies Classic crown to her growing trophy collection.

Unlike in her playoff win over Princess Superal at Hallow Ridge and a one-stroke escape over Ikeda at Caliraya Springs, Avaricio hardly found any challenge in the last 18 holes of the P750,000 championship, keeping her overnight four-stroke lead intact over nine holes, padding it to seven after No. 14 before settling for a six-stroke triumph with a last-hole miscue for the second straight day.

“I didn’t expect to win and just tried to focus on every shot. But my first round (64) was the key, it kind of pushed me to where I am today,” said Avaricio, who took control with a Tour record eight-under card Wednesday, and stayed in command despite a 75 in the second round and banked another P90,000 with a five-under 211 total.

Ikeda did threaten to within two with a birdie on No. 7 coupled with Avaricio’s mishap on the fifth but the latter fought back with a birdie on the eighth and sat on another four-cushion at the turn on an Ikeda bogey on the night.

It was cruise control for the Alabama State U alumna at the back, pulling away with a birdie-bogey-birdie run from No. 12 against Ikeda’s bogeys on Nos. 13 and 15, enabling Ababa, who fell behind with a 39 card after 11 holes in another blistering day at the flat but challenging Pradera layout, to get into a fierce duel for runner-up honors with birdies on Nos. 12 and 15.

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Ababa finished with a 73 while Ikeda hobbled with a 74 as they tied for second at 217 and split the combined P114,750 purse.

“I played pretty steadily. I had a couple of bad shots but I was able to recover in some holes,” said Avaricio, who scored an LPGT breakthrough with a runaway triumph at Riviera-Couples in bubble set up last year. “But I’ll try to keep on improving, especially my irons and short game.”

Marvi Monsalve holed out with a birdie to break back-to-back 74s with a 72 as she snatched solo fourth at 220, while Sunshine Baraquiel, winner at Highlands last year, skied to a 77 and wound up tied for fifth at 222 with Pamela Mariano, who limped with a 78.

Reigning Order of Merit champion Harmie Constantino continued to struggle after posting two victories in a grand rookie campaign last year, carding a 75 for solo seventh at 223, Martina Miñoza placed eighth at 224 , also after a 75, while Mariel Tee shot a 75 to tie Korean Jane Jeong, who struggled with a 78, at ninth at 227.

More importantly, Tee, back on the local scene after a three-year stay in the US, claimed the low amateur honors as Arnie Taguines ended up with a 77 to fall to joint 11th with Lovelynn Guioguio, who turned in a 75, at 228, while Kayla Nocum fell short of her rally in the amateur race, finishing with a 75 for a 229.

Avaricio’s runaway win thus ended a run of close finishes in the first six legs of this year’s circuit put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. but her romp came two strokes short of amateur Rianne Malixi’s nine-stroke victory at Midlands at the close of the Tour’s 2021 edition under bubble setup.

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Malixi also ruled this year’s kickoff leg at Luisita, edging Superal by one with Avaricio finishing a far third. Avaricio then nipped Superal in sudden death to snare the Hallow Ridge title and thwarted Ikeda by one at Caliraya Springs. Ikeda topped the Mt. Malarayat stop by three in a late-stretch breakaway from Avaricio while amateur Mafy Singson humbled Avaricio, Baraquiel and Constantino by one at Splendido Taal.

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