Harmie Constantino crowned herself the first ICTSI Villamor Philippine Ladies Masters champion in almost the same fashion that marked her previous victory at Luisita, overhauling a big deficit and winning by two over Chihiro Ikeda at the Villamor Golf Club on Friday.
And Constantino needed just a run of pars in the last five holes and a closing 74 to nail the hotly-disputed championship on a 221 total worth P120,000 as two-day leader Daniella Uy floundered at the finish again, making three straight double bogeys from No. 15 and limping with an 83, squandering a two-stroke lead in the stretch and winding up joint third instead.
Ikeda put in the day’s best 73 in an earlier flight to snatch runner-up honors at 223 and the P85,000 prize with erstwhile contender Korean Seoyun Kim likewise faltering at the finish with three straight bogeys for a 78 for a share of third with Uy at 226. They each received P66,000.
“I just stuck to and tried to execute my game plan – hit the fairways and make the putts,” said Constantino, who battled back from four strokes down and tied Uy after 10 holes to set the stage for another pressure-packed finish the way the former snatched the Luisita leg crown two weeks ago after rallying from as many as six strokes down in the final round.
But Uy rode on a birdie-bogey swing on No. 13 to regain a two-shot lead, that, however, proved short-lived as she yielded strokes after strokes in a stretch where she should’ve kept them.
Mishits and missed putts on the fast Villamor surface with tough pin placements led to double bogeys from No. 15, 16 and 17 and Uy found herself tumbling from the top and losing by an even wider margin – five – after working her way up with gutsy 70 and 73 in the first two days of the inaugural P1 million championship.
As Uy bogeyed the first three holes and dropped another stroke on No. 6 for a birdie-less 40, Constantino inched closer with a frontside 37 then survived an exacting backside finish with a slew of pars against a lone mishap against the former’s backside 43 marked by just one birdie.
“It was not as perfect as I had wanted it to be but I think I played okay. I played as steady as I possibly could,” said Constantino, whose par-saving putt from 12 feet on the 54th hole was greeted with jubilation from the home fans.
“It’s actually not the (Villamor) charm,” said Constantino after reigning again at the military layout she calls home after foiling top amateur Rianne Malixi, also in the first Match Play Invitational, in sudden death last November. “Nadadaan lang siguro sa mga prayers ng mga tao dito sa Villamor, They always pray for me, they always want me to win.”
The back-to-back victories should make the former national champion the marked player when action in the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour shifts to Valley Golf in Antipolo for this year’s sixth leg on June 6-9.
But expect Uy, along with the likes of Ikeda, Kim, Sarah Ababa, Marvi Monsalve and a host of others, to toughen up during the week-long break as they try to stop Constantino from extending her win run and fuel their respective title drive in the next LPGT stop at the up-and-down Valley South layout.
Ababa, meanwhile, shot a 76 and tied Monsalve, who skied to an 81, at fifth at 230 while Mafy Singson clinched another low amateur honors with a 235 after a 78 for joint seventh with Gretchen Villacencio, who made an 83.
Pamela Mariano put in a 78 for ninth at 240 while Monica Mandario wound up 10th at 244 after an 81.