Fortuna checks skid, sparks TCC’s sweep
(The Philippine Star) - December 18, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Mikhaela Fortuna blew a six-shot lead but battled back from two strokes down with gutsy pars in the closing holes as she edged Indonesian Ribka Vania and The Country Club teammate Abby Arevalo by one to snare the overall championship in the 2015 Pondok Indah International Junior golf tournament in Jakarta, Indonesia late Friday.

Fortuna turned from awesome to awful after a 69 and a closing 82 at the tough Pondok Indah Golf Course but came through with two clutch par putts in the last two holes, including a title-clinching eight-footer on the long par-5 18th to frustrate Vania, who carded a 74, and Arevalo, who fired a 73, and bag her biggest win in a young career.

“I just hung in there. Coach Bong (Lopez) told me to keep on fighting (when I fell behind) and show some character,” said the 15-year-old Fortuna, whose previous best was a Malaysian Kids World Championship feat in 2013.

The La Salle-Zobel student finished with a 222 total over 54 holes to nail her first major Asean title and likewise cop the Class A (15-17) diadem with Vania, who bogeyed three of the last five, and Arevalo, who birdied No. 17, ending up tied at second with 223s.

“It was a hard-earned win. Mikha hit an errant approach on the opening par-4 hole and made a triple bogey and made the turn at 42. She made four straight bogeys from No. 13, lost her overnight six-shot lead and fell by two. But she fought back and closed out with two tough pars to win by one,” said Lopez.

Bernice Olivarez Ilas also wavered with a 79 but still posted a three-shot victory in Class B with a 224, beating local ace Meva Helina Schmit, who carded a 77 for a 227. Malaysian Winning Ng took third place with a 228 after a 75.

Ilas actually joined Fortuna and local bet Rivani Sihotang in the championship flight but sputtered in the early going and limped with an opening 41 before parring the last eight holes to salvage joint second.

“It was the first time for Mikha and Bernice to be on the last flight of an international event, so they really felt the pressure. The course also played very long because of the overnight rain,” said Lopez.

Princess Superal capped another explosive run to close out the season, winning the special division via a whopping 23-shot romp over local bet Putri Aisyah Amani, and completing Team TCC’s sweep of the Jakarta meet.

Superal, also a former overall winner of one of Jakarta’s premier junior tournaments, bucked an early bogey with three birdies in the last 14 holes, finishing with a two-under 70 for a 215 total.

Amani sputtered while trying to chase the TCC ace, bogeying the first three holes and fumbling with an 82 for a 238 while Singapore’s Rachel Lim ended up third at 243 after a 77.

The runaway triumph thus capped the former US Girls’ Junior champion’s hot finish that included two victories in Malaysia and a come-from-behind win in Singapore which she hopes to sustain in the Philippine Ladies Open early next year.

ABBY AREVALO ACIRC AREVALO BERNICE OLIVAREZ ILAS CLASS A CLASS B COACH BONG FORTUNA INDONESIAN RIBKA VANIA AND THE COUNTRY CLUB LA SALLE-ZOBEL LOPEZ
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