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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Rare 4-shot swing keys Ababa’s rise to the top

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DAVAO—Sarah Ababa staged an amazing comeback, erasing a daunting four-stroke deficit in just one-hole and leveraging that pivotal moment to propel herself to victory in the ICTSI Apo Golf Classic, ending a prolonged drought on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour with a closing 73.

Ababa rebounded from a two-bogey setback after five holes with a chip-in birdie on the par-5 No. 6, capitalizing on Mafy Singson’s triple bogey on the same hole in a rare four-shot swing that dramatically shifted the momentum in a final round duel of local talents at the Apo Golf and Country Club here Thursday.

Trailing by two strokes after 36 holes and falling by four after No. 5, Ababa drew level at four-over total after six holes, seized the lead with another birdie on the seventh, and extended her advantage to two strokes as Singson faltered with a bogey on No. 8.

She kept her composure thereafter, opting for conservative play and reaping the rewards with a string of pars, hiking her lead to four as Singson struggled with bogeys on Nos. 12 and 15 and ended up with a 77.

Despite Singson’s birdie on No. 16 coupled with Ababa’s three-putt mishap, the latter remained steadfast, matching her opponent’s last two pars to nail the victory by two strokes with a four-over 220 total.

“I didn’t expect to win after falling behind by four early on,” said Ababa in Pilipino. “But my father (Edgar) always says, if it’s meant for me, it’s meant for me.”

Indeed, it was her day to shine.

Ababa expressed her gratitude for her timely birdies on Nos. 6 and 7, acknowledging the key role they played in her victory.

“Those birdies were incredibly lucky. I chipped in on No. 6 and made a long putt (30 feet) on the seventh,” said Ababa. “I played steady the rest of the way.”

Despite a moment of anxiety when she three-putted from 24 feet on No. 16, Ababa held her nerve to pound out the win, marking her first victory since her triumph at Sherwood Hills in 2015 and snapping her long winless streak on the premier ladies golf circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

Ababa credited her father, who sacrificed the chance to play in the men’s tournament to caddie for her, for his invaluable support.

“It’s an important win for me,” said Ababa, fighting back tears. “Aside from winning on my home course, my father sacrificed playing his own round just to help me.”

“He actually wanted to play (in the PGT) but decided to caddie for me because he was confident in my abilities. I’m truly grateful, both to him and to the Lord,” she added.

It was, however, a disappointing finish for Singson, who had hoped to launch her professional career with a victory on her home turf. Winner of two LPGT events as an amateur, Singson settled for second place with a 222 after a 76, earning P85,000 as a full-pledged professional.

“I drove to the right, hit a branch and played before a canal from a stymied lie. I then went for the green, tried to put it in the middle but pulled it a bit and got stuck in the bunker. I hit two balls to get out and three-putted,” said Singson of her misfortune on No. 6, which she birdied in the first round.

Mikha Fortuna, despite playing in the championship flight, failed to mount a significant challenge, settling for third at 226, also after a 77. She received P68,000.

Chanelle Avaricio rallied with a 74 to finish fourth at 227 while Harmie Constantion placed fifth at 232 after a 77 followed by Laurea Duque (77-234), Daniella Uy (76-235), Miya Legaspi (79-235), Rev Alcantara (82-237) and Lois Kaye Go (80-239).

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