Constantino edges Villacencio in playoff to defend Ladies Villamor Philippine Masters crown

Constantino edges Villacencio in playoff to defend Ladies Villamor Philippine Masters crown
Harmie Constantino shows off her latest hardware.
Pilipinas Golf

MANILA, Philippines – Harmie Constantino continued her impressive streak at the Villamor Golf Club, reinforcing her status as the top player on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour by successfully defending her ICTSI Ladies Villamor Philippine Masters crown in a hard-fought battle against Gretchen Villacencio, ultimately winning on the second playoff hole Friday.

Despite encountering setbacks with an errant drive and a mishit on their third return to the par-5 18th, Constantino resiliently salvaged a bogey then watched Villacencio crack under pressure, missing a crucial bogey putt from three feet, resulting in a costly three-putt double-bogey.

Reflecting on her performance, Constantino acknowledged the challenges of the day, recognizing areas where she could improve.

“I didn’t play my best today and my score reflects that. It’s a reminder that there’s always room for improvement,” she said after pulling off a thriller of a win worth P101,250.

Her dominance seemed assured until a series of bogeys from the 13th hole tightened the competition.

Two flights ahead of the championship group, Villacencio posted an eagle-aided 70 to finish at six-over 222, creating a tense tie at the top of the leaderboard.

“I wasn’t aware Gretchen was at six-over, so my final putt for par was crucial. I knew I had to make it to force the playoff,” said Constantino, highlighting the strategic pressure of her last putt.

Both parred the first playoff hole.

Grateful for her family’s support, Constantino, 22, credited her victory to their unwavering encouragement. “My mom, dad, and especially my sister Mikhaella played crucial roles in this win,” she acknowledged.

Having her sister on her bag also proved invaluable, balancing Harmie’s aggressive style with Mikhaella’s more cautious approach, contributing to their successful partnership.

Despite the challenges faced during the final round, Constantino remained optimistic. “Even with the setbacks, I kept believing I could bounce back,” she affirmed, demonstrating her determination and resilience in securing another prestigious title on the tour organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc. following her victories at Palos Verdes and Caliraya Springs.

What was headed into a runaway triumph turned into a test of will and character for Constantino. With a series of composed pars, she surged ahead by three strokes at the turn as second round co-leaders Pauline del Rosario and Florence Bisera faltered with shaky starts.

Playing virtually pressure-free on the final nine holes, Constantino extended her lead to five with a birdie on No. 12. But a four-bogey slide from No. 13 set the stage for a nerve-wracking finish as Villacencio charged back with a two-under card.

Villacencio settled for second and received P67,500, while del Rosario missed joining the playoff with a 76 for a 233 worth P60,000.

Seoyun Kim placed fourth with a 77 and a 225 followed by Mikha Fortuna (77-226), while Bisera skied to an 81 and wound up at joint sixth at 228 with Chihiro Ikeda, who finished with a 76.

The victory was particularly sweet for Constantino, marking her third win at Villamor, having previously won the ICTSI Match Play Invitational in 2022 and edging out Chihiro Ikeda by two strokes last year.

Beyond her familiarity with the course, where she honed her skills, it was Constantino’s unwavering resolve, poise and short game that truly set her apart. She overcame errant drives and wayward shots and a harrowing stretch-run struggle to emerge on top again.

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