Abby Arevalo
Arevalo coasts to 9-stroke PLO romp
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - February 21, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Abby Arevalo formalized her claim on the Philippine Ladies Open crown she had virtually wrapped up Wednesday, closing out with a 73 yesterday for a record-tying nine-stroke victory over Rianne Malixi at the Manila Golf Club in Makati.

Everything Arevalo did right in the first two rounds she did again yesterday until she fumbled at the backside on wrong club selection and lost her putting touch. Still, her worst card after a bogey-free 68 and a 69 proved enough to net her the crown with a 210 total as she got back at Malixi in smashing fashion to match Bianca Pagdanganan’s record win over former Thai ace amateur Atthaya Thitikul at Wack Wack in 2017.

Malixi, who edged Arevalo on the third playoff hole to snare the National Stroke Play diadem at Riviera last month, matched par 71 for a 219, while Mafy Singson carded a 75 to tie Eagle Ace Superal, who fumbled with a 76, at 226 with Grace Quintanilla ending up with a 228 after a 75.

“I was playing well at the front but lost my touch coming home due to wrong club selection,” said Arevalo, who after humbling the pros with a final-hole birdie to prevail at Riviera three years ago, nailed another memorable win, this time behind brilliant shotmaking, iron play and putting, emerging as the only player to shoot under-par in the first two days of the 58th staging of the country’s premier championship sponsored by San Miguel Corp., Diamond Motors, Sunsports and Eva Air and organized by the Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines.

With a whopping 11-stroke lead after 36 holes, she stood on her way to shattering Pagdanganan’s record as Malixi bogeyed the opening hole.

But after a gutsy frontside stint, she wavered at the back, enabling Malixi, who birdied Nos. 10 and 13, to cut the lead to six with a three-over card against Arevalo’s three-under aggregate.

The 12-year-old rising star, however, failed to sustain her charge and cracked when the going got tough, dropping a stroke on the 14th, which Arevalo birdied from 12 feet to all but settle the issue in the event backed by Globe, the National Golf Association of the Philippines, Copok (Seascape Village), Inquirer Golf, Mercedes-Benz, New World Hotel, Pocari, Manila Golf Ladies, Regent Travel, Hyundai, Poten-Cee, Pascual Lab, Net25, Lake Shore CCY, FHLCI and Tagaytay Ladies.

Although the event suffered a dip in participation following the last-minute withdrawals of players amid the COVID-19 outbreak, including those from the US, Taiwan, Singapore and other neighboring countries, Arevalo won it fair and square, through her talent, skills and sheer determination.

While her rivals floundered and hobbled trying to deal with the tight layout and its sleek surface, she stayed focused and flourished with her kind of game honed up while with the San Jose State U in the US and as member of the SEA Games gold medal winning squad.

The record-tying triumph thus kept the PLO crown at home for the fifth straight year after Princess Superal broke the Thais’ three-year domination at Midlands in 2016, Pagdanganan won at Wack Wack, and Yuka Saso scored back-to-back wins at Orchard and Manila Golf Club. It also augured well for her buildup for next month’s pro debut in the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour where she reigned as an amateur after shocking Pauline del Rosario with a last-hole birdie at Riviera in 2017.

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