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LPGT: Chanelle Avaricio rallies from eight strokes down, snatches Negros Occi grown

Chanelle Avaricio pulled off one of the most stirring comebacks in the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour history, rallying from eight strokes down and edging Sarah Ababa by one to snatch the ICTSI Negros Occidental Golf Classic crown at the Marapara course in Bacolod on Friday.

With Ababa too far ahead of the field after 36 holes, Avaricio focused on fighting for runner-up honors against a horde of contenders. But she found herself back right in the title hunt with a two-under card after 10 holes in the third-to-last flight.

She bogeyed two of the next seven holes but banged in a clutch par-putt from 12 feet on the 18th to salvage an even-par 70 for a 221 worth P105,000.

Back in the final group, Ababa hung on to the lead despite a frontside 40 marred by a double bogey on No. 4. But the two-day leader failed to check her skid and bogeyed four of the last five holes, missing forcing a playoff from just about the same distance where Avaricio buried her last putt.

She skied to a 79 and instead wound up second at 222 and settled for P75,250.

“I didn’t expect it. It (Ababa’s 8-shot lead) was pretty big, so my mindset was just to play well, and play my best. Since I didn’t see the scores, I was just trying to go for second place,” said Avaricio, who racked up three victories in a prolific campaign on the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.-organized circuit last year.

“I played well at the front (one-under) and from there I was hitting good shots. But it was only on No. 16 when I saw the scores,” added Avaricio, who moved to within one with two holes to play in hot, windy conditions.

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“I just tried to keep myself composed and play through the round,” she said. “I got nervous in the last two holes. But while I bogeyed the 17th, I was able to save par on the last.”

In contrast, Ababa cracked under mounting pressure, missing shots in the last two holes which she bogeyed, enabling Avaricio to snare the championship that in a long stretch had looked like in the bag for the Davaoeña shotmaker.

Ababa opened a four-shot lead over Avaricio with a superb 69 Wednesday and padded her lead to six over Pamela Mariano despite a second round 74, moving her 18 holes away from finally scoring a follow-up to her first and only victory in LPGT’s Sherwood Hills leg in 2015.

Rianne Malixi took the amateur honors with a second straight 73 as she tied Mariano, who carded a 75, at third at 224, while Daniella Uy also wavered with a 75 for fifth at 225, followed by Chihiro Ikeda, who pooled a 227 after a 76, Harmie Constantino, who assembled a 230 after a 78, and amateur Laurea Duque, who shot a 79 for joint ninth at 233 with Florence Bisea, who made an 82.

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