MANILA, Philippines — Dottie Ardina nailed her first Epson Tour victory in style, battling back from five down and outdueling United Kingdom’s Anita Uwadia in a nerve-wracking shootout to rule the Copper Rock Championship with a career-best solid seven-under 65 in Hurricane , Utah Sunday.
But it took a while before the Filipina could formalize her claim on the elusive first win as Aussie Amelia Garvey, playing three flights behind in the championship group with erstwhile leader Emma Broze of France and Finland’s Kiira Riihijarvi, missed forcing a playoff with bogeys in the last two holes.
That paved the way for the ICTSI-backed Ardina’s triumphant ride in the $200,000 championship where she pooled a 54-hole total of five-under 211 to beat Spain’s Marta Barrio, who closed out with a 67, and Laetitia Beck of Israel, who charged back with a 68, by two. She pocketed $30,000 (P1.6 million).
Garvey fought back from a frontside 38 with four birdies in the first seven holes at the back to pull within one off Ardina with a running four-under overall total with two holes to play. But she bogeyed both in an anxious attempt to make birdies and force a sudden death or steal the win.
In a flight ahead, Barrio, tied with Ardina and four others at sixth after 36 holes, mounted her own charge with an eagle-spiked six-under card after 12 holes to tie Ardina at four-under overall. But she also cracked when the going got tough, bogeying the par-3 14th while the gutsy Filipina holed out with a birdie on the 18th to spike her breakthrough win and herald her rise to the Epson Tour throne.
The former five-time US Kids champion and three-time Callaway Junior World winner, short in length but long in talent, was on target off the mound all day, hitting all fairways on an impressive 267-yard driving norm. She missed just three greens and finished with 26 putts.
Ardina, who recorded six Top 10 finishes, including five runner-up efforts, in the Epson Tour (then Symetra Tour) in 2018 to finish in the money list at No. 2 and earn LPGA Tour membership for 2019, birdied four of the first nine holes to wheel back into contention. She then gained more strokes on Nos. 11 and 13 to wrest control as Broze crumbled with a frontside 41 and faded with a 75 and Garvey wavered with that 37 and erstwhile joint second-running Riijijarvi and Kaufman hobbled with 39 and 40, respectively.
Barrio and Beck wound up second with a 213 while Thai Jaravee Boonchant and Uwadia matched 68s to tie for fourth with Garvey, who finished with a 71, at 214. Broze tumbled to joint seventh at 216 after closing out with a three-over card.
Uwadia and Ardina slugged it out in fourth-to-the-last flight from the start, matching birdies on the opening hole with the former hitting an eagle on the par-5 No. 5, which the latter birdied. Goal Ardina birdied Nos. 7 and 8 and made the turn at 33 and Uwadia reeled back with a bogey on the ninth for a 35.
Uwadia then strung up three straight birdies from No. 11 against Ardina’s birdies on Nos. 11 and 13 but while the latter held sway with a run of four pars before birdying the last, the former went on a par-bogey-birdie-bogey-par in the last five holes to yield the battle to Ardina.
After turning pro in 2014, Ardina made 11 cuts in 13 tournaments on the Epson Tour, and vied in 22 events the following year, making 18 cuts with four Top 10 finishes, including a share of second at the Four Winds Invitational.
She went 17-of-21 in 2016 with four Top 10 efforts, including a best tied for fourth finish at the Tullymore Classic. In 2016, she saw action in only 10 events and made just three cuts, including a third place effort at the El Dorado Shootout.
In 2019, she made five cuts in 21 starts in her LPGA Tour rookie season then went five-of-five the following year when she also won the Ballarat Icons Pro-Am tournament of the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Association.