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LPGT: Chihiro Ikeda hacks out 2-shot win despite 77

Chihiro Ikeda banked on a huge overnight lead as she survived a horrendous final round meltdown to claim her second championship in the last four legs of the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, beating Sarah Ababa by two despite a five-over 77 in General Trias, Cavite on Thursday.

Ikeda had built a six-shot cushion over Harmie Constantino and amateur Mikha Fortuna after 36 holes of the P1.5 million championship but went through some anxious moments before pulling through in the ICTSI Eagle Ridge at Aoki Invitational on a performance that was in stark contrast to her blistering second round 68 Wednesday.

“I played bad but I still won,” said Ikeda, who banked P202,500 in a victory that came after she reigned at Mt. Malarayat last May, then fought back from a share of fifth at Splendido with a joint runner-up effort at Pradera Verde last month.

“I was a little bit tired and failed to play steady. But I’m still I won,” added the Manila Southwoods and AsiaGlobal Technologies-backed pro.

She did birdie the opening hole to pad her lead but bogeyed three of the next four for a 38. She yielded two strokes on the daunting par-4 No. 13, bogeyed the next before wrapping up her 38-39 in a birdie-bogey fashion for a 216 total.

But through her struggle, her rivals had failed to pounce in, although Ababa, who started the last 18 holes seven shots off Ikeda, came in threateningly close in the other flight with a birdie on No. 13 for a running two-under card against Ikeda’s four-over output.

But Ababa, winner at Sherwood Hills in 2016, failed to get up-and-down on No. 14, matching Ikeda’s mishap, then dropped another stroke on the 18th to finish second at 218.

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Fortuna pulled to within two with two birdies in the first six holes, only to fade with four bogeys in the last 12 for a 74. She ended up third at 219 while running away with the low amateur honors in the 54-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

Constantino’s bid for a third straight victory at Aoki ended with a woeful 78 as she tumbled to fourth at 223 while Chanelle Avaricio finally snapped a pair of over-par rounds of 77 and 78 but her 72 could only net her a share of fifth at 227 after winning three of the last five tournaments of the LPGT, including the last at Pradera Verde.

Other 227 scorers were Lovelynn Guioguio and Apple Fudolin, who limped with 77 and 78, respectively, while Marvi Monsalve rallied with a 73 to tie Pamela Mariano, who skied to a 77, at eighth at 228.

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