Arevalo cruises to 9-shot victory

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    TRIUMPHANT: Abby Arevalo proudly displays the latest addition to her trophy cabinet.
    TRIUMPHANT: Abby Arevalo proudly displays the latest addition to her trophy cabinet.

    ABBY Arevalo missed posting a record winning margin but claimed the Philippine Ladies Open crown just the same, handily beating Rianne Malixi by nine despite turning in her worst round in three days – a 73 – at the Manila Golf Club in Makati yesterday.

    Three years after humbling the pros with a final-hole birdie to prevail at Riviera, Arevalo posted 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.

    She finished with 210, counting her bogey-free 68 and 69 in the first two days, for a nine-shot win over Malixi, who matched par 71 for 219, with Mafy Singson carding a 75 to tie Eagle Ace Superal, who made a 76, at 226 and Grace Quintanilla ending up with a 228 after a 75.

    With a whopping 11-stroke lead after 36 holes, Arevalo stood on her way to shattering Bianca Pagdanganan’s nine-stroke triumph over former Thai ace amateur Atthaya Thitikul at Wack Wack in 2017 as Malixi bogeyed the opening hole.

    But she wavered at the backside with bogeys on wrong club selection while losing her putting touch, enabling Malixi, who birdied Nos. 10 and 13, to cut the lead to six with a three-overall 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 sponsored by San Miguel Corp., Diamond Motors, Sunsports and Eva Air and organized by the Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines.

    “I was playing well at the front but lost my touch coming home due to wrong club selection,” said Arevalo, whose bogeys in the last two holes hardly mattered as Malixi dropped two strokes on the closing par-4 hole.

    Although the 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.