Constantino rules at Aoki

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HARMIE CONSTANTINO lost a four-stroke lead as she dropped her rhythm and touch but pounced on Mafy Singson’s late mishap to hack out a one-stroke victory despite a closing 75 in the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) Aoki Classic at Eagle Ridge in General Trias, Cavite, on Friday.

Constantino survived a disastrous double-bogey on the par-4 No. 9, which Singson birdied that enabled the plucky amateur to pull within one, eventually forcing a tie as the former yielded a costly stroke on No. 14.

But the former national champion steeled herself up in the pressure-packed stretch, hitting clutch shots and pars then watching Singson flub a par-putt bid on the 17th to pull off the escape win and complete her back-to-back title run at one of Eagle Ridge’s four championship courses.

“I guess this course just suits my game, the way it was set up,” said Constantino, who stunned Princess Superal by two in the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Challenge, also at Aoki, last March to mark her pro debut before the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour (LPGTA) took the first of two breaks due to the spike of coronavirus cases.

“I actually had a rough day, it wasn’t what I expected from myself. I thought I could’ve shot better,” added Constantino, who hit three birdies but fumbled with four other bogeys for a 38-37.

Constantino finished with a two-over 218, three strokes lower than her winning output over Superal but which proved enough to net her P112,500 and the momentum and confidence heading to the next LPGT stop at Highlands for the ICTSI Tagaytay Highlands Ladies Challenge from November 10 to 12.

The organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc. has also lined up another two-leg swing at Riviera after a week-long break, holding the ICTSI Riviera Ladies Challenge from November 24 to 26 and the ICTSI Riviera Ladies Championship from December 1 to 3 at the Couples and Langers courses.

Singson, who with fellow amateur Laurea Duque showed up the pros with 70 and 72, respectively, Wednesday, rued his late mishap but proud of her runner-up finish on a 219 total after a 74 that likewise netted her first low amateur honors in the circuit put up by ICTSI.

“I played pretty clumsy but it was fun to be back on Tour,” said Singson, winner of the Fil-Am junior crown in Baguio in 2019, who flashed resiliency after dropping two strokes on No. 2. She shot three birdies against a bogey in the next eight holes but bogeyed two of the last seven.

Chihiro Ikeda, priming up for the Highlands sortie where she last reigned at the adjacent Midlands course in 2019, regained her touch a bit late, rattling off three straight birdies from No. 15 to save a 71 and snare third place 220, just two strokes behind Constantino. She took the runner-up prize worth P75,000.

Chanelle Avaricio, runner-up to Superal in the last two LPGT events at Sherwood and Eagle Ridge-Norman before the circuit went on another respite last July, also ran out of holes in her comeback bid, gunning down five birdies against two birdies in the last nine holes for the day’s best 70. She settled for fourth at 221 and received P60,000.

Duque, who pulled to within two with birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 for a running one-under card, reeled back with bogeys on the next two holes as she wound up with a 73 for fifth at 222.

Marvi Monsalve also rallied with a 73 to finish sixth at 224 while Sunshine Baraquiel faded with a 78 to tumble to eighth at 227 followed by Daniella Uy (76-229) and amateur Burberry Zhang (83-235).

Surging ahead by two with a second 70, Constantino threatened to pull away despite a two-birdie, two-bogey card after six holes as Singson fumbled with a double-bogey on the second hole.

But the first day leader struck back on a three-shot swing on the ninth, matched Constantino’s birdie on the 10th before drawing level as the latter bogeyed the 11th.

Constantino cashed in on Singson’s mishap on No. 12 to regain the lead but failed to go up-and-down on No. 14 to set the stage for the thrilling finish.

Image courtesy of Mark Lopez

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