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Tight LPGT finish up as Superal pulls out

Jan Veran - Philstar.com
Tight LPGT finish up as Superal pulls out
Chanelle Avaricio and Harmie Constantino

MANILA, Philippines – The Ladies Philippine Golf Tour girds up for its third restart next week facing an entirely different finish in the ICTSI Aoki Classic at Eagle Ridge as many-time winner Princess Superal pulled out from the Php750,000 championship to resume her campaign in Japan.

That leaves the title chase in the upcoming LPGT event wide open with the likes of Harmie Constantino and Chanelle Avaricio, along with LPGA of Taiwan Tour campaigners Daniella Uy, Cyna Rodriguez and Marvi Monsalve, looming as the chief contenders for top honors in the 54-hole marking the resumption of the ICTSI-backed circuit following a three-month hiatus due to the spike in coronavirus cases in NCR Plus.

Superal was actually in the Aoki Classic roster, looking for a third championship after sweeping the Sherwood Hills and Eagle Ridge-Norman legs last July before the circuit went on another hiatus. But the 2019 LPGT Order of Merit winner received her Japanese visa the other day, paving the way for her re-entry to the first stage of three qualifying tournaments for the LPGA of Japan Tour set November 23-26 in Gunma Prefecture, Mie Prefecture and Hyogo Prefecture.

The 2014 US Girls Junior champion, who had limited stints in the Japan Step-Up Tour in 2019, will leave on November 5 for quarantine and isolation protocols.

That sets up an exciting battle for top honors in the Aoki Classic unfolding November 3 with no player holding a distinct advantage over the rest, mainly due to lack of competitive play the last three months. But the compact field has stayed in shape during the hiatus through regular practice and range forays although actual competition remains a far more different arena for these touring ladies.

But Constantino will have an added push as she would be heading back to the very site where she marked her pro debut with a victory over Superal and Pauline del Rosario last March.

A slew of bidders, however, is also coming into the 54-hole championship hungry for recognition, including Avaricio, who lost to Superal at Sherwood and Eagle Ridge-Norman, Uy, Rodriguez and Monsalve, and former leg winners Chihiro Ikeda and Sarah Ababa, thus ensuring a fierce duel of shotmaking and putting in all three days.

Others vying in the event are Sheryl Villacencio, Apple Fudolin, Majorie Palumbarit, Pamela Mariano, Eva Miñoza, Lovelyn Guioguio, Sunshine Baraquiel and Florence Bisera.

Gretchen Villacencio, meanwhile, has also pulled out of the event for medical reasons but has committed to play in the next LPGT bubble tournament, the ICTSI Tagaytay Highlands Challenge on Nov. 9-11.

Like in the past LPGT events held during the pandemic, the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. is imposing strict guidelines and protocols to ensure the health and safety of all those involved as per the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) guidelines.

The PGTI staged its first restart in late 2020 following an eight-month hiatus with Superal and Del Rosario splitting top honors at Riviera. It then kicked off its 2021 season last March with Constantino humbling Superal by two right in her first pro tournament at Aoki.

But another spike in COVID-19 cases prompted the PGTI to suspend play again.

The PGTI is likewise finalizing details to hold two more tournaments back at Riviera, also next month.

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