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Dark horse bets eye top finish at ICTSI Midlands

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THE Ladies Philippine Golf Tour heads to the last stop of its five-leg swing in its third restart in new normal at Tagaytay Midlands on Dec. 14 with those seeking a breakthrough hoping to jump on the trend that has marked the circuit’s past three stagings at various championship courses.

The Tour produced first-time winners at Highlands (Sunshine Baraquiel) and Riviera’s Couples (Chanelle Avaricio) and Langer (Daniella Uy) courses with the likes of Gretchen Villacencio, Marvi Monsalve, Florence Bisera, Pamela Mariano and Apple Fudolin going all out to produce three-day of brilliance at Midlands in an attempt to join the growing roster of new winners in the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.-organized circuit.

With multi-titled Princess Superal, who swept the Sherwood and Eagle Ridge-Norman titles last July before the circuit took another break due to pandemic, opting to campaign elsewhere, Harmie Constantino looked headed to dominate right on her maiden pro season with back-to-back victories at Eagle Ridge-Aoki last March and last month. 

But she was stopped on her tracks as new winners emerged in the next three tournaments with Baraquiel ruling the ICTSI Tagaytay Highlands in tough conditions, Avaricio coming away with an emphatic seven-stroke victory in the ICTSI Riviera Ladies Challenge at Couples, and Uy fashioning out a five-shot triumph in the ICTSI Riviera Ladies Championship at Langer.

In those three championships, Chihiro Ikeda figured in the title hunt but the Fil-Japanese came up short on each occasion, either winding up solo second or joint runner-up, thus also making her the player to watch in the upcoming ICTSI. Midlands Ladies Classic, which she ruled via playoff over Pauline del Rosario in 2019.

Villacencio, whose best finish was second to Superal at Riviera Couples in 2019, placed fifth at Langer with Monsalve posting another seventh-place effort, Bisera winding up 11th, Mariano ending up 12th and Fudolin finishing at tied 14th.

But no player has a distinct advantage at Midlands which offers a combination of tests from the weather to its hazards and its unpredictable surface, ensuring a wild chase for top honors.

Constantino is also determined to close out the season on a winning note, so do Baraquiel, Avaricio and Uy, who are all eyeing to nail the morale-boosting second win.

But the dark horses are raring to stir up play and crowd the favorites in the 54-hole championship still held under a bubble setup in line with the government’s strict health and safety protocols.

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