Princess Superal, who was being pursued by three major champions, remained in hot pursuit of the prime jewel, fending off their threats with the poise and class of a seasoned big-league campaigner in order to win the Asia Pacific Cup individual crown with a gem of a finish in Jakarta yesterday. The race was held at the Jakarta International Circuit.
Princess Superal actually delivered the big Saturday punch early, which was a three-birdie blitz from the second hole that knocked her three rivals out of the title chase and left them scrambling for the crumbs of a runner-up finish at the softened Pondok Indah course. Her three rivals were world No. 4 Lydia Ko, No. 8 Hyo Joo Kim, and No. 46 So Yeon Ryu. Together, they had won a combined five major championships.
And for ICTSI-backed ace, who is ranked No. 924 in the world, she finished the rich, inaugural $750,000 championship with a solid 67. This allowed her to beat Ryu, an eight-time winner on the LPGA Tour, including the 2011 US Women’s Open and the 2017 Chevron Championship, by three strokes on a brilliant 12-under 204 total that was boosted by an opening bogey-free 66. Ryu won the 2011 US Women’s Open
Princess Superal won the princely $100,000 (P5.5 million) purse despite the fact that she really brought home a net $80,000 (P4.5 million), still tripling her earnings in a six-year pro career highlighted by a series of triumphs on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.
At the very same course where she had previously dominated the Pondok Indah Junior Championship back in 2015, she finished with 13 birdies and only one bogey, so demonstrating unequivocally that she is capable of competing on an equal footing with the very best players in the world.
Ryu, who led after the first 18 holes with a blazing 65 but stumbled with a 75 on Friday, birdied the last two holes to match Superal’s final five-under card and grab sole second place at 207. Superal finished in first place with a score of 202.
Ko, whose spectacular LPGA career has been highlighted by triumphs in the 2015 Evian and the 2016 Chevron Championships as well as 15 previous wins, missed a birdie putt from five feet on the 18th, and as a result, she finished up third at 208 after shooting a score of 70.
After keeping her emotions in check for the entirety of the competition, Princess Superal finally burst into tears as she hugged her long-time friend and teammate Pauline del Rosario after holing out with a par on another missed opportunity for a birdie. This was Superal’s third straight missed opportunity for a birdie after sinking her final birdie putt from a long distance on No. 15, which virtually ensured that she would win.
“This (victory) is a tremendous morale- and confidence-boost, knowing that I can win in international competitions,” said Superal, who displayed outstanding putting all day and finished with 27 putts. Superal’s performance was highlighted by the fact that he finished with 27 putts.
The petite but brilliant player, who will fly return to Thailand to restart her campaign in at least three events, said, “I simply kept concentrated and tried to learn from Lydia’s (Ko) game.”
Princess Superal also thanked her swing coach and mentor, Bong Lopez, as well as coaches Justin Aquino and Lee Tajonera, the Orchard Golf and Country Club, and ICTSI chairman and CEO Ricky Razon for his long-running golf program and continued support to her and fellow campaigners, both in the professional and amateur ranks. Bong Lopez is a coach at the Orchard Golf and Country Club.
Princess Superal shared that she did not have the chance to speak to Ko during or after the round, but that she did take advantage of the opportunity to picture with Ko and their colleagues after the awards rituals.
Princess Superal, who is also preparing for the Japan LPGA Q-School in November, stated, “We were not able to communicate much on the course but she did congratulate me.”
It was just too bad that del Rosario was unable to recover from a disastrous bogey and double-bogey mishaps in the first two holes, dropping three more shots against two birdies, the last of which on No. 18 secured the Philippines’ second place finish in the team competition ruled by the Korea 2 team made up of Ryu and Bomee Lee.
An Epson Tour competitor named Del Rosario, who had fought back from an opening score of 75 with a score of 70, spent the whole day out of position with her long game and struggled to shoot 76. In solo competition, she finished tied for 18th with a score of 221, and the team’s final round score of 143 brought their three-day total to 425, which was four strokes behind Korea 2’s score of 421 after 142. She was also backed by the largest port operator in the world.
In the event where each finisher in individual competition was guaranteed a minimum payout of $5,680, New Zealand came in third place with a score of 427. This was also after a round of 143, which included Momoka Kobori’s score of 73. This was significantly higher than the payouts of $3,707 and $4,051 that were given to the players who finished in last place in the LPGA tournaments held in Singapore and Thailand earlier this year.
The winning team will also get the majority of the overall pot, which is set at $250,000. The remaining money will be split among the teams who finish second through fifteenth. The Asian Golf Leaders Forum (AGLF), who are in charge of organizing the competition, will, in due course, make an announcement on the breakdown of the prize money distribution.
Kim Hyo Joo, the winner of the 2014 Evian Championship, was a major disappointment as the spearhead of Korea 1 and finished tied for eighth at 215 after shooting a 75. Her teamup with young You Min Hwang, who also struggled with a three-over card, dropped them to sixth in team play at 431. Indonesia 3 (429) and Japan 2 (431) were in front of them (430).
According to Princess Superal swing coach and mentor Bong Lopez of Manila Southwoods, “her ball-striking and putting were in A-1 condition, so I only prayed that she be given strength and a huge battling spirit to resist the strain.” Bong Lopez is a member of the Manila Southwoods golf community. “However, I had no reason to believe she would not prevail.”
Princess Superal came into the pressure-packed final round normally reserved for big-time players unperturbed, brushing off Ko’s opening hole birdie that tied them at seven-under overall, as well as Kim and Ryu’s early two- and one-under cards, respectively. This was done while her competitors prepared for a wild and nerve-wracking battle. Superal came out on top.
However, she made a birdie on the second hole and capitalized on Ko’s bogey for a significant two-shot swing. She then added a curling six-footer on hole number three and sank another from ten feet on the following hole on her way to three- and four-shot cushions.
She relaxed as she moved into the home stretch, turning off the attack mode, and settling for two-putt pars, which prevented her competitors from mounting any kind of frantic comebacks in the final stretch.
Princess Superal was almost perfect off the tee and was almost as good with her short and mid-irons. Even though she missed the green a few times, she was able to recover because to the fact that she had excellent wedge play. Her early strokes on the putt nearly shattered the faith of her competitors and blew away their prospects of winning, but it was her putting that ultimately led to her winning the coveted championship.
Superal’s performance in the final round was indeed close to being magnificent as she kept her nerves in check all throughout the competition and never relinquished the lead – not even allowing anybody to gain a share of it – after wresting solo control after the second hole. The event’s broadcast anchors even said that they had run out of adjectives to label Superal’s performance, which was indeed close to being magnificent.
Princess Superal went into the AsPac Cup with no expectations of crowding the major names in the fold, such as Ko and Kim, and said: “I didn’t anticipate anything but very eager to play with them.” (I didn’t expect anything but very excited to play with them.) Simply because I want to see how they play and gain knowledge from them.
She didn’t only pick up some new information from them; she also “showed them how” to do things.
For more information regarding OKBet Sports Philippines, click here