Now in control of the Order of Merit race, Chihiro Ikeda tries to zero in on a second career overall individual crown on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour as she headlines the field in the ICTSI Riviera Championship unfolding Oct. 4 at Riviera’s Langer course in Silang, Cavite.
With erstwhile frontrunner Chanelle Avaricio focusing on her LPGA Tour card bid in the US, Ikeda stormed ahead of the OOM battle with a runner-up finish to amateur Rianne Malixi in the last LPGT leg at Valley Golf Club, raising her earnings to P702,750 heading to the last three legs of this year’s circuit in new normal.
Avaricio, whose three LPGT victories spurred her to seek a playing card in the world’s premier circuit, slipped to No. 2 with P605,000 in winnings while Harmie Constantino, who notched two victories and posted a couple of Top 5 finishes to win the OOM trophy in her rookie season last year, is at distant third with P499,500 in earnings.
But Ikeda isn’t looking past the ninth leg of LPGT’s first full-calendar season since the pandemic, putting all her efforts on getting to be ready and doing better in the upcoming 54-hole, P750,000 championship put up by ICTSI.
“This is going to be tough. Langer has always been a test, game-wise and mentally, with its length, tightness and all the hazards that come into play in most holes,” said Ikeda, the 2016 OOM winner, during a break in practice at one of the country’s toughest championship courses.
The par-71 layout, kept in championship form all year-long, will indeed challenge not only the field’s golf skills but their patience and mental toughness as well given its length, menacing bunkers and hazards that come into play in most holes, particularly in the presence of the winds.
A number of holes could also be deceiving, requiring thorough study and decision-making on approach shots.
Ikeda finished second to Daniella Uy here last year with the Fil-Japanese keen on finishing on top this time in an attempt to score a follow-up to her victories at Mount Malarayat and Eagle Ridge-Aoki and firm up her OOM lead.
But Constantino is also out to foil her bid, along with Highlands leg winner Sunshine Baraquiel, former leg titlist Sarah Ababa and title-hungry Marvi Monsalve, Gretchen Villacencio, Apple Fudolin and Lovelynn Guioguio, and young guns Martina Miñoza, Pamela Mariano and Kristine Fleetwood.
Also vying in the 54-hole tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. are Lucy Landicho, Majorie Pulumbarit and Eva Miñoza.
Meanwhile, Pradera Verde will host the next LPGT leg on Oct. 25-27 before the circuit winds up on Nov. 2-4 for the Anvaya Cove Ladies International, which also marks the return of foreign bidders since 2019.