Ababa scores LPGT breakthrough, tops Sherwood

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Sarah Ababa survived a late foldup with gutsy pars then pounced on Chihiro Ikeda’s bogey on the 17th to nail her maiden win on the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, ruling the ICTSI Sherwood Ladies Championship by two strokes despite a closing 75 at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club Thursday.

“It’s a great feeling winning for the first time,” said Ababa, who fended off Ikeda and Korean amateur Hwang Min Jeong’s early charge with clutch pars to pull away by three at the front. “I’ve been looking for this one for a long time.”

Sarah Ababa hoists her first ICTSI LPGT trophy after topping the Sherwood Ladies Championship.
Sarah Ababa hoists her first ICTSI LPGT trophy after topping the Sherwood Ladies Championship.

But Ababa had to buck a shaky windup to annex her first win in the three-year-old tour sponsored by ICTSI, closing out with three pars from long range and watching Ikeda fumble with a late bogey. She pocketed the top purse of P100,000 with a 54-hole total of 220, four-over par over a course that played tough in all three days.

Ikeda actually tied Ababa at the helm after four holes but a double-bogey on No. 5 and a bogey on the ninth dropped her farther back by three at the turn. She pulled to within one again with two holes left after Ababa stumbled with a bogey on No. 13 and dropped two strokes on the par-5 15th but mishit her approach shot on the par-4 17th and failed to return a six-footer for par.

She also ended up with a 75 and with Hwang, finished the way they began the final round – two shots behind.

“I’m happy with the result since it’s been a long time since I wound up second. I’ll just try to make up in the next leg,” said Ikeda, who shared runner-up honors with Hwang, who also had a 75, at 222. They halved the combined P110,000 prize.

ICTSI Riviera leg winner Cyna Rodriguez closed out her stint in the fifth leg of the eight-stage circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. the way she started it – struggling – as the reigning Order of Merit champion skied to a 77 and turned in her worst finish of 15-over 231 for fourth.

Anya Tanpinco limped with an 80 and placed fifth at 233, Korean Kim So Un made an 81 for sixth at 234, Koh Eu Na, another Korean amateur, stood a shot farther back at 235 after a 78 while Thai Amolkan Phalajivin rebounded with a 76 for a 236.

Ikeda and Hwang moved within one early as Ababa started out with a missed-green bogey with Ikeda tying Ababa with a birdie on the par-5 No. 4 for the third straight day. But the Fil-Japanese shotmaker made a double-bogey on the fifth and bogeyed the ninth for a 38, the same output put in by Hwang as the duo fell by three heading to the backside.

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