Pauline claims hard-fought MLAO crown

Pauline Del Rosario of the Philippines with the MLAO trophy ©Mike Casper|The ClubHouse
Pauline Del Rosario of the Philippines with the MLAO trophy ©Mike Casper|The ClubHouse

RAWANG [Selangor]: Philippines’ rising star Pauline Del Rosario took advantage of a late howler by local hope Nur Durriyah Damian to claim a convincing three-shot victory at the Malaysian Ladies Amateur Open (MLAO) on Thursday.

Durriyah tumbled out of a tie for the lead with a triple-bogey at the par-five 15th as Pauline clung on resolutely to close with a battling 73 at Templer Park Country Club.

Pauline settled for a level-par 216 to finish ahead of New Zealand’s Julianne Del Puerto Alvarez, who fired a final round best of one-under 71. Durriyah wound up with a second consecutive 75 to finish alone in third on 220.

Equalling her finish last year, Durriyah nonetheless claimed a minor consolation for the hosts when she and fellow SEA Games-bound teammate Genevieve Ling I-Rynn emerged victorious in the team event.

The pair combined for a two-day total of 296 to finish two strokes clear of runners-up New Zealand.

Pauline was elated to claim the biggest win yet in her young amateur career. “It was a tough contest out there today and I’m just delighted to have done enough to win the championship by a pretty good margin.

“My putting has been average all week and I really felt the pressure on the back nine when Durriyah began to make her move. But I kept to my conservative game plan and made a couple of clutch par saves to bring it home,” said the 16-year-old from Manila, who began the round with a two-shot cushion.

She traded two birdies and bogey on the first nine to extend her lead to three strokes but bogeys on 10th and 13th combined with a birdie for Durriyah on 12th saw the pair level as they teed-off the 14th.

Nur Durriyah Damian © Mike Casper|The ClubHouse
Nur Durriyah Damian © Mike Casper|The ClubHouse

The stalemate did not last too long as Durriyah pulled her drive out-of-bounds on the 15th and the resulting triple bogey all but ended her title hopes.

“It’s just one of those days when a single hole decided the contest. I felt for Durriyah, because she was giving it her best but it the end, I needed that lucky break,” added Pauline.

Durriyah was inconsolable as she tried to reflect on the one costly blunder that took the championship from her.

“It was a bitter twist after having played valiantly to bring myself back into contention. I tried to recover after that [triple bogey] but it stuck out like a sore point and I lost focus after that. I can be proud of the way I played but in the end, it proved a very costly mistake,” said the 20-year-old, who mixed  wants to put this tournament behind her as she look forward to tee-up at her third SEA Games next month.

A total of 58 foreign participants played in the 32nd edition of the prestigious annual championship organised by the Malaysian Ladies Golf Association (MALGA).

Leading results:
Malaysian unless stated
216 – Pauline Del Rosario (PHI) 73-70-73
219 – Julianne Del Puerto Alvarez (NZL) 75-73-71
220 – Nur Durriyah Damian 70-75-75
225 – Michelle Cheung (HKG) 74-77-74
226 – Inez Beatrice Wanamarta (INA) 76-77-73
227 – Mun Chin Keh (NZL) 75-76-76
228 – Amanda Tan (SIN) 76-73-79
229 – Koh Sock Hwee (SIN) 80-75-74, Ashley Lau Wen Jen 76-76-77, Genevieve Ling I-Rynn 74-77-78