Superal pulls off thriller vs Mexican, cops US Girls crown

Princess Superal beams as she flaunts her biggest triumph in a young career – the US Girls Junior Championship.(pr)
Princess Superal beams as she flaunts her biggest triumph in a young career – the US Girls Junior Championship.(pr)
Princess Superal became the first Filipina-born player to win the prestigious US Girls’ Junior Championship, fighting off Mexico’s Marijosse Navarro’s late fightback and snatching the fiercely fought crown on the 37th hole at the Forest Highlands Golf Club in Flagstaff, Arizona Saturday.
Superal pounced on Navarro’s hooked drive into a water hazard on the first playoff hole, the par-5 14th, and barely reached the green in two. Taking a drop, the Mexican made it in four and when Superal flubbed her birdie putt and she (Navarro) missed on a long par-putt bid, Navarro conceded the hole, the match and the crown to new Filipina champion.
“I really didn’t expect it,” said an ecstatic Superal after wrapping up the biggest triumph in a career stuffed with various championships, including a SEA Games gold and victories in the Asia-Pacific region. “I feel very, very proud.”
The 17-year-old spearhead of Team ICTSI thus became the first Filipina to win a USGA championship, the biggest junior tournament in the world. Dorothy Delasin, with Filipino parents but born in Texas, also won the event in 1996 but played as an American.
Dottie Ardina also had a crack in 2001 but lost in the finals.
But given the rare chance to shine, Superal seized the moment.
“She just didn’t give up. After blowing a 2-up lead late in the match and trailing by one with one hole to go, Princess just kept her composure and made a make-or-break birdie. She was simply tough,” said Team ICTSI coach Bong Lopez, who took over the junior golf program launched by ICTSI chairman and CEO Ricky Razon in 2005.
In a finale she appeared to have dominated with a near-flawless golf, Superal blew a 2-up lead in the early going and late in their grueling 36-hole duel as Navarro charged back with two birdies to square the match on the 33rd then took the lead for the first time with a scrambling par on the par-3 17th, the 35th hole.
But Superal, who missed her par-putt bid from six feet on the penultimate hole, showed grace under pressure, knocking her approach on the par-5 18th to within 10 feet and burying the pressure-packed birdie putt.
That somewhat rattled the long-hitting Navarro, who after nearly reaching the green in two, missed what could’ve been a title-clinching birdie bid from eight feet.
“It was a difficult putt but I wasn’t confident,” rued Navarro, who earlier made a superb recovery shot when after missing the 35th green, she chipped in to within six feet for par and the lead.
“It was nerve-wracking,” Navarro said of that clutch chip. “But like my caddie said to me, you’ve been practicing this all your life and just trust yourself.”
She, however, cracked when she watched Superal’s delicate 10-footer roll in, muffing her own eight-foot birdie bid on the 36th.
Lopez also cited Superal’s superb conditioning as his prized ward played through a total of 153 holes in the week, including 36 holes of stroke play where she finished No. 4 and a slew of tough knockout matches.
In the finale, Superal played to the equivalent of eight-under par, with the usual match-play concessions, and did not card her first bogey until the 35th hole. Navarro finished at seven-under.
By making it to the finals, Superal and Navarro received exemptions into next month’s Women’s Amateur Championship set in Glen Cove, New York with Superal also gaining exemption into the 2015 US Women’s Amateur to be held in Portland.(pr)

Lascuña stops Go, Salvador, cops ICTSI Negros crown

Tony Lascuna raises his arms in triumph after racking up another victory at ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic.(pr)
Tony Lascuna raises his arms in triumph after racking up another victory at ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic.(pr)

BACOLOD – Davao’s Tony Lascuña whisked off an early threat from townmate Elmer Salvador and amateur Lloyd Go with a cluster of birdies from No. 6 then cruised to a four-shot romp with a closing three-under 67 in another dominating performance at the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic here, Saturday.
With Salvador and Go pulling to within one from five strokes down with three birdies in the first five holes in separate flights, Lascuña rebounded from a bogey-mishap on No. 4 with birdies on Nos. 6, 7 and 9 and went three-up again with a 33 at the Marapara layout.
It was cruise control from there as Lascuna came through with routine pars and a birdie at the back for a 34 and Salvador and Go, who both made the turn at 31, ran out of steam and firepower and wound up with identical 35s and 66s.
“Elmer and Lloyd threatened in the early going but I made clutch birdies from No. 6 and coasted along at the back,” said Lascuna, who was right on target at 12-under 268 he had predicted to be the winning total in the P1 million event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
The win, adding up to his victories at ICTSI Eagle Ridge and Valley Golf legs of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., also primed up Lascuna for the Aboitiz Invitational set next month at Riviera, an Asian Development Tour leg.
“I hope to finally contend for an ADT crown. I had near-misses in the past but never really got into contention in the final round. This time, I think I’m ready,” said Lascuna, who tied for 11th at ADT ICTSI Riviera Classic won by Salvador last May. He didn’t see action in the other ADT event, the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship won by Rufino Bayron last month.
Lascuna took another P200,000 for his latest feat which also firmed up his hold of the Order of Merit lead and a crack at a record third straight OOM crown. Salvador missed clinching solo second with a bogey on the par-5 18th for 272 but still took the P120,000 runner-up prize as Go settled for low amateur honors.
Arnold Villacencio, who finished joint fourth with Lascuna in last week’s ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge, matched par 70 and placed fourth again with a 273 worth P65,000 while Ferdie Aunzo fired a 67 and Fil-Am Carl Santos-Ocampo shot a 68 to share fifth place at 274.
Michael Bibat blew a solid four-under card after 10 holes with two bogeys in the last eight and ended up with a 68 for seventh at 275, Orlan Sumcad rallied with a 67 to salvage eighth place at 277 while ICTSI Iloilo leg winner Cassius Casas finally broke par with a 68 to tie Rey Pagunsan, who also shot a 68, at ninth at 279 in the event backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports, Srixon, FootJoy, It’s More Fun in the Philippines, Callaway, Mizuno, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Sharp and KZG with Balls,, Inquirer Golf and ABS-CBN Sports+Action as media partners.
Go, who threatened to spoil the big guns’ party with a 66 Friday, sustained his form and even showed up Lascuna and Villacencio in the final flight with back-to-back birdies from No. 2. With Lascuna muffing a par-putt bid from seven feet on the fourth, Go birdied No. 5 to move within one.
A flight ahead, Salvador played pressure-free in the company of Aunzo and Santos-Ocampo, birdying Nos. 2, 4 and 5 to likewise pull within one.
But Lascuna matched Go’s birdie on the sixth then knocked down birdies on Nos. 7 and 9 to regain control at the turn.
That was all he needed to wrap up another win as Go and Salvador failed to mount any serious challenge with both hitting just one birdie against a bogey for even 35s and Lascuna burying an eight-footer for birdie on the par-3 13th to cap his 67.(pr)

Davao’s Lascuña takes control as V’cencio wavers  

BACOLOD – Tony Lascuña shouldered himself past a fading Arnold Villacencio with a flawless four-under 66, overhauling a three-stroke deficit for a two-stroke lead and a crack at another crown in the P1 million Negros Occidental Classic at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club here, Friday.
It was actually Lascuna’s second straight bogey-free round after a 68 Thursday tied him with Michael Bibat at second, three shots behind Villacencio halfway through the 72-hole championship. But his 66, coupled with Villacencio’s backside meltdown for a 71, put Lascuna into a familiar place and closer to a third leg title in this year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
“Natiyempo lang at nagsabay na maganda ang palo and putting (I was just able to put it all together – driving, irons and putting),” said Lascuna, whose nine-under 201 total moved him 18 holes away from nailing another crown after dominating the ICTSI Eagle Ridge and Valley Golf legs of the circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Villacencio, who launched his bid for a breakthrough win with back-to-back 66s, stayed three shots clear off Lascuna after No. 10 but cracked when the going got tough in the closing holes, making three bogeys for a one-over 71. He dropped to second at 203,
Bibat, who pressed his drive for a second career victory with a 66 in the second round, muffled a couple of birdie putts from close range and made two bogeys in a birdie-less backside stint, He limped home with a 72 and tumbled down to joint sixth at 207.
Amateur Lloyd Go followed up an impressive 67 Thursday with a four-under 66 to force a three-way for third at 206 with Carl Santos-Ocampo, who shot a 67, and Elmer Salvador, who settled for another 70.
But with his fiery round, Go earned a rare spot in the championship flight as he joins Lascuna and Villacencio in the final group with Salvador and Santos-Ocampo relegated to second-to-last flight with Ferdie Aunzo.
“My target is to score 12-under total so I think a three-under card tomorrow (today) will do it. But I want to focus on my game, on each shot, especially on Marapara’s putting surface which is very unpredictable,” said Lascuna.
The ace Davaoeno shotmaker, also gunning for a record third straight Order of Merit crown on the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., actually banked on his putting to wrest control, sinking birdies from 8 feet on Nos. 3, 7 and 15 while rolling in a 16-footer on No. 11.
Villacencio, who cut the dog-leg par-4 No. 6 and made an eagle that anchored his second 66 and put him three shots clear of Lascuna and Bibat halfway through, held sway after 10 holes but lost his putting touch and composure, flubbing par putts from short distance on Nos. 11 and 12 and missed another one from five feet on No. 15 for a 37 and a 71.
“I just struggled with my putting,” said Villacencio, who has squandered a number of winning chances with final round collapses.
“He’s been playing well lately and he really needs a win to toughen him up,” said Lascuna of Villacencio.
Aunzo rebounded with a 67 to tie Jhonnel Ababa, who slowed down with a 70 after a 68 and 79, and Bibat at sixth while Peter Villaber turned in the day’s third 66 to share ninth place with Mhark Fernando, who fired 69, at 209, eight strokes behind.
Orlan Sumcad made a 69 for a 210 while ICTSI Iloilo leg winner Cassius Casas settled for antoher 70 for a 211 aggregate in a tie with Marvin Dumandan (67), Rey Pagunsan (68), ICTSI Sherwood Hills leg winner Charles Hong (69) and Miguel Ochoa, Rolando Marabe and Joey Huerva, who all had 70s.
Other backers o the event are Nike Golf, Pacsports, Srixon, FootJoy, It’s More Fun in the Philippines, Callaway, Mizuno, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Sharp and KZG with Balls,, Inquirer Golf and ABS-CBN Sports+Action as media partners.(pr)

Salvador ties V’cencio at helm with 66

BACOLOD – Title-hungry Arnold Villacencio flubbed a birdie-putt from two feet on No. 8 and settled for a four-under 66, dropping into a tie with Elmer Salvador, one stroke ahead of fancied Tony Lascuna and obscure Chris Mamaril at the start of the P1 million Negros Occidental Classic here, Wednesday.

Eager to sink the putt from just a tap-in distance, Villacencio instead rushed his stroke, the ball lipping the cup to his dismay, stopping him from seizing the solo lead for the first time while enabling the steady Salvador to grab a piece of it.
“I was about to pick up the ball from the hole but it lipped out,” said Villacencio, whose late-hole miscue marred an otherwise blazing frontside finish that saw him birdie the first three holes inside four feet for a 32-34 card at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club course.
Still, it was an impressive opener for the Fernando Air Base Golf Club bet in Lipa City, Batangas, who hit two birdies against a bogey at the back before blitzing the first nine holes of the par-70 Marapara layout with solid driving and superb approach shots.
Four flights behind, Salvador outgunned Lascuña in an early clash of the favorites in the 10th leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, negating his bogey mishap on No. 7 with five birdies, including on the par-3 8th which Villacencio bogeyed to cap a 33-33 round.
Lascuna didn’t fare bad either despite getting outshot by Salvador with the reigning back-to-back Order of Merit champion and winner of two legs in this year’s circuit sponsored by International Container Terminals Services, Inc. gunning down four birdies against a bogey at the back to wrest early control. But after another birdie on No. 6, he also dropped a shot on No. 8 to slip to joint third with Mamaril at 67.
Mamaril, down at No. 57 in the current OOM ranking with poor finishes after nine legs of the tour organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., also sizzled on his homeward trip at the front, firing three birdies from long range against a bogey for a 32 to emerge the surprise bet with a 67.
Jhonnel Ababa, winless since racking up three leg victories in 2012, put himself in early contention with a 68 while pro-am winner Anthony Fernando turned in a one-under 69 to tie Erwin Arcillas, Ferdie Aunzo and one-time winner Michael Bibat at sixth.
Cassius Casas struggled while trying to keep the momentum of his one-stroke victory over Salvador in last week’s ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge, missing a couple of birdie chances from close range and finishing with a one-birdie-one-bogey stint for a 70.
Other even par scorers were Paul Echavez, Dante Becierra, Orlan Sumcad, Carl Santos-Ocampo, Jessie Balasabas, Korean Gyuha Park and Zanie Boy Gialon, who nipped Lascuna in a playoff in the rain-shortened edition of this event two years ago.
His confidence boosted by a joint fourth place finish in Iloilo, Villacencio birdied No. 10, dropped a stroke on No. 13, rolled in a six-footer for another birdie on the 17th before rattling off three straight birdies from No. 1. He banged in an eight-footer on the fifth to go five-under but bungled the rare chance for the solo lead on the eighth.
“It was just plain overconfidence,” rued Villacencio, who had two third-place efforts for his best finish in a six-year pro career.
Other backers o the event are Nike Golf, Pacsports, Srixon, FootJoy, It’s More Fun in the Philippines, Callaway, Mizuno, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Sharp and KZG with Balls,, Inquirer Golf and ABS-CBN Sports+Action as media partners.(pr)

Lady Bulldogs swoop down on Patrollers; Ateneo pounds UP

National U whisked off Philippine National Police’s gutsy stand in the opener then imposed its will in the next two to fashion out a 25-23, 25-16, 25-18 victory to get back on track after back-to-back setbacks in the Shakey’s V-League Season II Open Conference at The Arena in San Juan, Sunday.
Jaja Santiago used her height and long reach to pummel the PNP defenders with 12 kills, the same number of attacks delivered by Myla Pablo, as the Lady Bulldogs rebounded strong after a pair of 0-3 defeats to powerhouse Army and defending champion Cagayan.
“We made defensive adjustments in the second set that’s why the complexion of the game changed,” said NU coach Ariel dela Cruz.
Santiago finished with 18 hits, including three blocks and the same number of aces, while setter Ivy Perez also came through with three blocks for a five-point output for the Lady Bulldgos, who evened their card at 2-2.
The Lady Patrollers, led by Frances Molina’s 15 hits, fell to 0-5 and on the brink of elimination in the mid-season conference of the league sponsored by Shakey’s.
Ateneo survived a surprisingly tough University of the Philippines side and needed to regroup in the decider to pound out a 25-15, 24-26, 25-21, 21-25, 15-11 victory in the second game.
Scoring leader Alyssa Valdez continued to pour in the points, this time firing 31 hits, including 28 kills, to lead the Lady Eagles to joint fifth with the Lady Bulldogs heading to the final week of the single round eliminations of the league backed by Mikasa and Accel and where it all started.
But the Lady Maroons proved to be a big revelation as they dragged the reigning UAAP champions to a thrilling finish but still fell short of their bid to nail the elusive win.
Nicole Tiamzon fired 21 points, Katherine Bersola unleashed a 19-hit effort and Pauline Araneta added 10 markers to practically negate Valdez’s output.
But Michelle Morente chipped in 16 points and Miren Gequillana, Amy Ahomiro and Bea de Leon stepped up and pooled 23 points for the Lady Eagles, who dealt the Lady Maroons their fifth straight loss.
The victory also primed up the Bustillos-based squad for a tough outing against PLDT Home Telpad tomorrow with the Power Boosters raring to atone for their straight-set loss to unbeaten Lady Troopers last Thursday.
Though PNP produced 32 kills against NU’s 37, the Lady Patrollers drew just 12 excellent sets from Jane Ticar, limiting the team’s scoring chances off the spike a bit. In contrast, Perez made 25 excellent sets that led to a number hits from Santiago and Pablo.
Jane Mandapat also chipped eight markers, Jorelle Singh and Perez each had five points and skipper Desiree Dadang added four hits for NU, seeking a follow-up to its First Conference win in Season 10.
NU’s defense also held Jane Maderazo to just eight markers while Charisse Perez and Michell Datuin combined for 11 points for PNP.
Meanwhile, the NU-PNP game will be aired on GMA News TV Channel starting at 1 p.m. on Monday with the Ateneo-UP duel, being played at presstime, to be shown tomorrow, according to the organizing Sports Vision.(pr)

PLDT Home Telpad’s Laurence Ann Latigay (11) unleashes a power tip against Army’s MJ Balse as Lady Trooper Jovelyn Gonzaga (left) tries to provide help.(pr photo)
PLDT Home Telpad’s Laurence Ann Latigay (11) unleashes a power tip against Army’s MJ Balse as Lady Trooper Jovelyn Gonzaga (left) tries to provide help.(pr photo)

Davao’s Casas cashes in, cops ICTSI Iloilo crown

ILOILO – Davao’s Cassius Casas checked his skid in time with a clutch two-putt birdie on No. 14 then watched townmate Elmer Salvador flub birdie putts in the last two holes to hack out a one-stroke victory on a scrambling 70 in the P1 million ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge in Sta. Barbara here, Sunday.
Casas nearly lost a three-stroke lead as the ghosts of his final round meltdowns visited him again when he bogeyed two of the first three holes at the back, including on No. 12, which Salvador birdied for a two-shot swing that moved the latter within a stroke.

But the reigning The Country Club Invitational champion came through with a superb rescue second shot from 230 yards on the par-5 14th that landed 12 feet short off the cup, two-putting for birdie to preserve a two-stroke lead.

Not even a bogey on the 17th could stymie Casas’ bid to pocket the top P200,000 purse as Salvador missed a tying uphill putt from 20 feet and then misread again another birdie putt from eight feet on the final hole, enabling Casas to escape with the victory on an eight-under 272 aggregate.
“It feels good to win again. I’m really hitting well this year and I hope to win at least two or three more before the season ends,” said Casas, who topped last year’s final leg at ICTSI Wack Wack and nailed his second TCC crown but struggled in the first half of this year’s 16-leg circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
It was a sorry setback for Salvador, who went bogey-free in the last 36 holes, including a closing 68, but still came up short to add this leg to his impressive victory in the foreign-laced ICTSI Riviera Classic last May.
“While my driving and iron shots were okay, I just couldn’t putt in the last three days,” rued Salvador, who missed at least six putts from close range in the last three rounds.
“It would be tough for me to win again if I couldn’t improve on my putting,” said Salvador, who took home P120,000 on a 273 total.
Orlan Sumcad birdied No. 17 to fire a 69 and post his best finish in the season at third at 274 worth P65,000 while Arnold Villacencio, a co-leader midway through the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., sizzled with a 67 and tied Tony Lascuna, who carded a 68, at 275. Each took home P45,000.
Mhark Fernando and Rolando Marabe also shot a pair of 68s to share sixth place at 278 worth P32,500 each while Rene Menor turned in a 69 for solo eighth at 279 in the tournament backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports, Srixon, FootJoy, It’s More Fun in the Philippines, Callaway, Mizuno, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Sharp and KZG,
Benjie Magada and Jun Bernis also closed out with 68s for joint ninth with Rufino Bayron (69), Michael Bibat (69), Angelo Que (70), Ferdie Aunzo (70), Paul Vesinica (71) and Rico Depilo (71) at 280.
Casas, who missed the cut twice and blew at least two cracks at the title with final round collapses after eight legs, threatened to pull away with birdies on Nos. 2 and 4, stretching his lead to five.
But Salvador birdied No. 6, then pounced on Casas shaky backside start, including a three-putt miscue on No. 10 and a missed green bogey on the 12th, moving within one on that two-shot swing on the par-4 No. 12.
“I guess the three-shot lead I built after 54 holes and my solid start were the key. That put more pressure on them. It was free wheeling, I just played through routine pars and went for birdies when there were chances,” said Casas, now the marked man as the circuit heads to Bacolod starting Wednesday for the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic at the Marapara layout.(pr)

Casas, V’cencio tie Salvador at helm

ILOILO – Davao’s Cassius Casas banged in a 12-foot birdie putt on the ninth to cap a fiery windup for a two-under 68 as he joined a charging Arnold Villacencio and erstwhile leader Elmer Salvador in a crowded leaderboard halfway through the ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge in Sta. Barbara here Thursday.
Casas, out to nail his first win on this year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour after a couple of near-misses, hit three birdies in the last nine holes at the front, including a chip-in from 20 yards on No. 3 and a tap-in on the next as he put himself in contention for the top P200,000 purse with a three-under 137 at the Iloilo Golf and Country Club.
Salvador, Casas’ townmate, settled for an even par 70 after a 67 while Villacencio shot the day’s best 67 to force a three-way tie for the lead even as a host of others stood a stroke or two behind, ensuring a wild chase for the top plum in the last two rounds of the P1 million event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Michael Bibat stayed in the hunt for a second pro win with a 68, the same score churned out by the long-hitting Orlan Sumcad for joint fourth at 138 while reigning back-to-back Order of Merit champion Tony Lascuna inched his way closer at 139, also after a 68, in the company of Miguel Ochoa, who shot a 68, Ferdie Aunzo, who matched par 70, and Jun Bernis, who hobbled with a 71.
Angelo Que, also eyeing a first win this year, also bounced back into contention with a 68 after a 72 and tied ICTSI Splendido winner Jay Bayron, who carded a 71, guaranteeing a shootout in the final 36 holes of the ninth leg of the 16-stage circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“This is the plan, to be on the lead because that takes off some pressure on me,” said Casas, who closed out last season’s circuit with a victory at ICTSI Wack Wack Championship and opened 2014 with a second win at The Country Club Invitational last February.
But the country’s former No. 1 struggled at the start of the tour, missing the cut a couple of times and fading in the final round in two other tournaments. But in the share of the lead this week, the ace Davaoeno shotmaker is upbeat of his title chances with two rounds left in the 72-hole tournament.
“It is up for the rest to think of how to catch up with me. But it’s going to be tough with a wet course and unpredictable putting surface,” said Casas in Pilipino.
Salvador did grope for form on the greens after an impressive 67 in tough condition Wednesday, flubbing birdie putts on Nos. 13 and 18 and missing keeping the solo lead with an even 70.
“Those putts on Nos. 13 and 18 were fairly easy but I just couldn’t drop my putts,” said Salvador, seeking to score a follow-up to this victory at ICTSI Riviera fashioned out in equally demanding condition.
But Casas and Salvador will have Villacencio to contend in their battle for the lead in today’s third round as the 45-year-old Fernando Air Base pro got a view of the top with that 67.
Villacencio, hoping to finally nail the elusive win after previously blowing a couple of title chances with a final round meltdown, made four birdies inside eight feet to negate a lone bogey on No. 6.
“I played well today (yesterday) although I never expected to tie Cassius and Elmer for the lead.  But I am lucky to be where I am now,” said Villacencio, who placed third at Mt. Malarayat in 2009 and at Eastridge in 2011.
But focus will also be on Lascuna, Bayron and Que, who are expected to make their charge in moving day in the event backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports, Srixon, FootJoy, It’s More Fun in the Philippines, Callaway, Mizuno, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Sharp and KZG,
“I’m not too far behind and I believe I can still make it with a good third round score,” said Que.(pr)