CARMONA, Cavite – Lee Jeong Hwa put on another comeback worthy of another ICTSI Champion Tour trophy.
Four down with nine holes to play, the Korean rattled off five birdies, including three straight from No. 13, to close out with a five-under 67 in scorching heat and nip Mia Piccio by one to rule the Manila Southwoods leg presented by Champion and Taiwan LPGA Tour at the Legends course on Friday.
Like in her Splendido win last week where she battled from two shots down in the last eight holes to edge Japanese Fumika Kawagishi, the 21-year-old Busan native mounted another great comeback with a fiery 31 for that 67 and 54-hole total of 11-under 205.
“I didn’t expect to win but I was lucky I made it,” said Lee, who pocketed another US$15,000 from the total pot of $75,000 put up International Container Terminal Services, Inc. “My putting did it for me.”
Piccio did not play badly, closing out with a bogey-free 69 with an eagle to boot, but Lee, who turned pro at 18 after winning the Philippine Ladies Open at Wack Wack in 2012, simply finished stronger.
“I played relatively good. I could have won it outright had I made my four birdie putts at the back,” said Piccio, referring to her flubbed chances on Nos. 11, 15, 16 and 17 - all inside six feet.
The last could’ve forced a playoff but the Bacolod ace, who earlier buried a 20-footer for birdie on No. 2 to move two-up and hit a solid 3-wood second shot from 250 yards to set up a five-foot eagle putt to pull away by four, had to settle for runner-up honors at 206 worth $7,500.
“Golf is like that – you are not sure of winning until the last hole. Maybe the tournament wasn’t meant for me,” said Piccio.
Amateur Sam Martirez held her ground against Lee and Piccio in the featured flight, fighting back into contention with three birdies in a four-hole stretch from No. 11, finishing with a 68 for solo third at 207.
Pauline del Rosario, Martirez teammate in The Country Club stable, also stayed in the hunt in the second-to-last flight but ran out of holes and ended with a 69 for fourth at 210 while Thai Kanphanitnan Muangkhumaskul also shot a bogey-free 68 to tie Korean amateur Hwang Min-jeong, who also carded a four-under card, at 211.