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Monday, March 4, 2024

Avaricio launches drive for 4th LPGT title

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Gen. Trias, Cavite—Chanelle Avaricio sets out for another title crack with a form that continues to get better over time, poised to re-assert her mastery over a field she had dominated the last time out in the ICTSI Eagle Ridge at Aoki Invitational, which reels off today (Tuesday) here.

With Princess Superal opting to strike out her name in the roster for a much-needed rest following a grueling campaign in Thailand LPGA, Avaricio faces practically the same set of rivals she trounced on her way to posting an imposing six-stroke triumph in the Pradera Verde Ladies Classic last month.

That was her third victory in the last five Ladies Philippine Golf Tour events, counting her playoff win over Superal at Hallow Ridge and a one-stroke escape over Chihiro Ikeda at Caliraya Springs, easily making her the player to beat in the 54-hole championship put up by ICTSI, which doubled this week’s prize fund to P1.5 million.

But she expects a stiffer challenge this time, particularly from Harmie Constantino, who is hoping to cash in on her own good run of form on a course where she reigned twice on her way to claiming the Order of Merit title right on her rookie season last year.

The former national champion upstaged Superal by two in bubble setup in the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Challenge in March 2021 then struck again when the circuit headed back to Aoki in November, edging amateur Mafy Singson by one.

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With a victory and a runner-up finish in the last three legs of the circuit, Ikeda is also upbeat of her chances while the rest of the pack seek to spring a surprise or two in the next three days to stir up play in the tournament serving as the seventh leg of this year’s Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.-organized circuit.

They include Sarah Ababa, a former LPGT winner who served notice of her comeback bid with a joint runner-up effort at Pradera, Marvi Monsalve, Florence Bisera, Gretchen Villacencio and rookies Martina Miñoza and Lesley Icoy and lone Korean entry Joyoung Yang.

Mikha Fortuna and Eagle Ace Superal, meanwhile, dispute the low amateur honors with an eye on duplicating Rianne Malixi’s feat in this year’s kickoff leg at Luisita.

But focus will still be on Avaricio, who passed up a scheduled US stint to further work on her game, including iron play and putting, making her A-ready for another shot at the crown and on a prize twice her previous earnings.

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