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Harmie lifts LPGT crown

LUBAO, Pampanga — Harmie Constantino stayed out of harm’s way while Chanelle Avaricio floundered in a pressure-packed backside duel between two of the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour’s leading players as Constantino seized a one-stroke victory to reign in the ICTSI Pradera Championship despite a closing 74.

Constantino fought back from two shots down with nine holes to go, birdying the par-5 12th for the second straight day then watching Avaricio hobble with a spate of bogeys to pull off the big reversal and win for the first time outside of Eagle Ridge-Aoki.

“I just avoided making mistakes and making more putts than anyone else,” said Constantino, who took control by two as the two-day leader fumbled with bogeys on Nos. 11, 13 and 14.

Both dropped shots on the tough par-4 16th with Constantino closing out with a two-over card for an even 216 and Avaricio holing out with a birdie for a 76 and a 217.

It was Constantino’s third victory, worth P168,750, in a young pro career she launched with two victories in bubble setup last year, both at Eagle Ridge-Aoki.

But she failed to figure in title chases in the succeeding LPGT events until she was able to put it all together in the last nine holes coupled with Avaricio’s uncharacteristic windup.

“My game was pretty consistent despite the wind conditions and course setup, which was a little bit harder, with pins on tough spots. But I stayed patient,” she added.

But she later admitted she had no expectations this week, saying she didn’t have a great season.

“I just went out there and tried to play well, play good golf,” Constantino added.

A two-over round actually isn’t a good score to close out a big championship but Avaricio simply lost her touch, rhythm and focus with those string of costly bogeys that foiled her drive for a fourth championship after topping the Hallow Ridge and the Caliraya Springs legs, both last April, and the sixth stop of this year’s LPGT here last June where she routed the field by six.

The former Alabama State University star looked headed to re-stamping her class in her LPGT return after clinching a spot in Stage II of the LPGA Q-School. But after a blistering opening 67, she fumbled with a 74 and barely held a one-stroke lead heading to the last 18 holes of the P1.25 million championship.

But she even hiked her lead to two going to the last nine holes but as Constantino toughened up with a clutch birdie on the 12th and a brave run of pars, Avaricio wavered and ran out of holes in her last-ditch bid to force a playoff.

She settled for the P108,750 runner-up prize.

Gretchen Villacencio rallied with the day’s best 71 to snare third place honors at 218 worth P93,750, while Pamela Mariano carded a 74 and tied erstwhile third-running Florence Bisera, who limped with a 76, at 219.

Sarah Ababa finished sixth with a 221 after a 72 while amateur Mafy Singson, who humbled the pros at Splendido Taal last May, battled back with a 72 after an 80 to salvage joint seventh at 222 with Korean Kim Seoyunb, who shot a 73.

Sunshine Baraquiel, the Highlands leg winner last year, skied to a 77 and wound up ninth at 224 while amarteur Rev Lizbeth Alcantara ended up 10th at 224 after a decent 73.

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