Hwang Min-Jeong stayed true to her vow, winning The Women’s Championship at Summit Point crown by one over Chihiro Ikeda as the Korean prevailed in a duel of faltering finishes with a 71 at the Summit Point Golf and Country Club in Lipa City, Batangas on Friday.
Hwang, 17, birdied three of the first four holes to break off a tie with Thai Nemittra Juntanaket then watched Ikeda’s blistering rally in a flight ahead fizzle out to clinch the victory, her second in a young pro career she launched in winning fashion at Splendido last January.
“This championship means so much to me, I gained so much confidence from this win,” said Hwang, who had hinted at getting the trophy after shooting a 69 and forcing a tie with Juntanaket after 36 holes Thursday. The 2018 Philippine Amateur Open winner assembled a 54-hole total of eight-under 208 worth P150,000.
“But one thing I learned this week is that you have no time to relax till the last hole. The Thai (Juntanaket) is really good and when I saw on the boards that Ikeda is making a rally, I got nervous. I thought I lost it or I would go to a playoff after holing out with a bogey. I’m so glad to win it all,” said Hwang, who also credited his father-caddie-driver Hwang Byung Sug’s role for her victory.
Ikeda nearly spoiled Hwang’s bid as the Fil-Japanese rallied from four down on a stirring three-birdie binge from No. 12, the last netting her a two-shot swing after Hwang bogeyed No. 14 to force a tie at nine-under overall. But the Midlands playoff winner last July bogeyed No. 15 to fall behind again and holed out with another bogey on the 18th in her desperate bid to land a birdie and force a playoff.
She finished with a 69 for second at 209 and received P90,000 while Juntanaket kissed her bid for a second straight Ladies Philippine Golf Tour title after ruling the ICTSI Mount Malarayat Classic last week with bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16 for a 73.
“I gave it my best shot but I came up short,” said the multi-titled Ikeda while stressing the need to work and train hard to achieve another championship.
Tiranan Yoopan pulled to within two with back-to-back birdies from No. 12 but the comely Thai campaigner failed to ride the pressure in the featured flight and bogeyed the par-3 17th. She settled for joint third with Juntanaket at 210 with a 71.
The Country Club’s Eagle Ace Superal closed out with a 72 for joint 11th at 224 with Korean Kang Da Yun, who fumbled with a 77, and took the low amateur trophy for the second straight week.
Last year’s winner Yupaporn Kawinpakorn failed to contend with three birdies against the same number of bogeys as the veteran campaigner ended up solo fifth at 212 after a 72 while compatriot Pimpadsorn Sangkagaro rebounded from a second round 80 with the day’s best 68 spiked by five birdies at the front for sixth at 216.
Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang, who nipped Cyna Rodriguez in a playoff to win at Luisita last year, groped for a 75 for solo seventh at 217 while Ajira Nualraksa, joint third with Hwang last week, limped with a 76 for eighth at 218 followed by Marvi Monsalve, who matched par 72 for a 219 while Pamela Mariano carded a 75 for a 223 and wound up 10th in the penultimate leg of the 12-stage seventh season of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments and backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Empire Golf and Sports and M.Y. Shokai Technology Inc.