Princess Superal closed out with flubbed back-to-back birdie putts inside seven feet and missed winning the low medal honors in the LPGA and Symetra Tour Qualifying School-Stage I at Rancho Mirage, California Sunday.
The ace Filipina shotmaker was riding on the crest of a long birdie putt on No. 16 but her putts fell off short on the last two holes of the tough Dinah Shore course. She settled for a 69 and joint runner-up finish in the first of three qualifiers leading to a dream LPGA Tour stint.
Superal, 19, finished tied with American Sarah Schmelzel, who carded a 71, at nine-under 279 in the 72-hole tournament topped by Ecuador’s Daniela Darquea, who pooled a 278 after a 70.
Still, it was the best-ever finish by a Filipina bet in the Q-School of the world’s premier ladies tour with The Country Club ace vowing to prepare hard and stay in shape when she resumes her campaign in Stage II set Oct. 20-23 at the Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Florida.
“She’ll play two LPGA events in September and then head to Florida mid-October to prepare for Stage II,” said TCC coach Bong Lopez, who caddied for his prized ward during the 72-hole elims played over three courses.
“She had the line on both holes but her putts just fell short. Sayang talaga,” said Lopez, referring to Superal’s last two strokes which had she made would’ve netted her the coveted medal honors.
“Still, it was a solid finish. I always believe her skill level is good for the LPGA,” said Lopez, the man at the helm of the ICTSI golf program that has produced the likes of Cyna Rodriguez and Dottie Ardina and current wards Pauline del Rosario, Sofia Chanon, Mika Fortuna and Abby Arevalo.
Superal, the former US Girls’ Junior champion, stood at 25th among 340 aspirants after two rounds at Gary Player and Dinah Shore courses then moved up joint seventh with a sterling 68 at the Arnold Palmer layout.
She actually bogeyed No. 3 when the final round returned to the Dinah Shore, the toughest of the three courses, which is also a regular venue of an LPGA Major. But the reigning Philippine Ladies Open champion and Hong Kong Ladies Amateur Open winner fought back with birdies on Nos. 6, 8, 11 and 16 to contend for top honors.
Regina de Guzman, the other Filipina bet, also advanced to Stage II despite a 77 finish. She wound up tied for 46th at 291.
Filipina Symetra Tour campaigners Dottie Ardina and Mia Piccio and two-time Symetra Tour winner Clariss Guce will resume their LPGA bids as they join Superal and De Guzman plus the other Stage I qualifiers in Stage II.
The top 80 plus ties will move to Stage III, a 90-hole tournament which stakes berths for next year’s LPGA Tour.
Cyna Rodriguez, after failing to make the Top 80 on her rookie year on the LPGA Tour, will vie again in Stage III slated Nov. 30-Dec. 4 at the LPGA international in Daytona Beach, Florida.