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Fortuna bests Ikeda, seals ICTSI Match Play title duel vs Duque

Philstar.com
Fortuna bests Ikeda, seals ICTSI Match Play title duel vs Duque
Mikha Fortuna
Pilipinas Golf

SANTA ROSA, Laguna – Mikha Fortuna moved a step closer to claiming her first pro victory, securing a decisive 4&3 triumph over Chihiro Ikeda to seal a championship clash with amateur Laurea Duque in the ICTSI The Country Club Match Play Invitational at the TCC course here Thursday.

Fortuna, 23, maintained her composure and executed her game plan in near-impeccable fashion, winning two of the first six holes and establishing a 4-up lead after 11.

Despite a stumble on the 13th, she stayed in control en route to victory, adding to her string of dominant runs, including a 5&3 romp over last year’s champion and top seed Harmie Constantino and a 5&4 win over Korean Seoyun Kim.

Fortuna emphasized the importance of sticking to her game plan and staying patient. With one match to play, she has secured the top P280,000 purse in the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour side of the head-to-head duels as she faces amateur Duque in the finals.

“The key to winning today was pretty much the same — sticking to my game play and staying patient out there,” said Fortuna.

Despite her frustration after a setback on No. 13, she cited Ikeda’s strong play and putting skills.

“Like I said, it was easy to get frustrated towards the backnine. I wasn’t getting what I wanted,” said Fortuna. “I had one bogey and I kind of got like, frustrated in a way. But I just stuck to it (plan) so it pretty worked today.”

Despite the margin of victory, Fortuna said: “Ikeda played very good, putted really good. It’s just like I just had more birdie opportunities.”

“But playing with her, it was tough,” added the University of Okhaloma product.

In the other side of the semis face-off, Duque pounded out a tougher 1-up squeaker over Gretchen Villacencio, marking her most successful campaign in a young amateur career.

Duque recognized the significant of reaching the finals of the P1.5 million championship, considering it one of her best achievements. She attributed her success to improved performance throughout the season.

But against Fortuna, Duque stressed the need for a strong effort and favorable breaks.

“I haven’t had such a good year this season but I started to get better,”said Duque, who cashed in on Villacencio’s shaky putting to stay in the match after trailing on Nos. 2 and 3. She seized a 1-up lead on the six with a clutch birdie from 6 feet and never yielded the upperhand.

She also took No. 12 and though her pro rival countered and won the next, Duque kept her poise and preserved her lead up to the last hole.

“Mikha is playing pretty well,” said Duque. “I’ll just play my own game and do what I’ve been doing now.”

Fortuna, meantime, remains focused on her plan, underlining the importance of patience in such kind of a format.

“I would do the same thing. It’s match play, so I have to stay patient and see what happens tomorrow,” said Fortuna.

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MIKHA FORTUNA

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