Charleston, S.C.--08/04/13--Princess Superal hits her tee shot at No. 12 during the first round of stroke play at the 2013 U. S. Women's Amateur at Country Club of Charleston.(Photo by Tracy Wilcox/GOLFWEEK)
Charleston, S.C.–08/04/13–Princess Superal hits her tee shot at No. 12 during the first round of stroke play at the 2013 U. S. Women’s Amateur at Country Club of Charleston.(Photo by Tracy Wilcox/GOLFWEEK)

ARIZONA — Princess Superal became the first Filipino-born player to win recently the prestigious US Girls’ Junior Championship, beating Mexico’s Marijosse Navarro in the playoffs on the 37th hole in the Forest Highlands golf course in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Superal pounced on Navarro’s hooked drive into a water hazard on the first playoff hole, the par-5 14th, and barely reached the green in two. Taking a drop, the Mexican made it in four, and when Superal flubbed her birdie putt and she (Navarro) missed on a long par-putt bid, Navarro conceded the match and the crown to the Filipina.

“I really didn’t expect it,” said an ecstatic Superal after wrapping up the biggest triumph in a career stuffed with various championships, including a SEA Games gold and victories in the Asia-Pacific region. “I feel very, very proud.”

The 17-year-old who led Team ICTSI thus became the first Filipina to win a USGA championship, the biggest junior tournament in the world. Dorothy Delasin who was born in Texas and whose parents are Filipinos, also topped the tournament in 1996 but she played as an American.

Filipina Dottie Ardina had a crack at the championship in 2001 but she lost in the finals.

Given the rare chance to shine on the world stage, the 5-foot-1 Superal took advantage of the opportunity.

“She just didn’t give up. After blowing a 2-up lead late in the match and trailing by one with one hole to go, Princess kept her composure and made a make-or-break birdie. She was simply tough,” said Team ICTSI coach Bong Lopez, who supervised the junior golf program launched by ICTSI chairman and CEO Ricky Razon in 2005.

In the finals, she appeared to have dominated with near-flawless golf, but she blew a 2-up lead in the early going and late in the grueling 36-hole duel as Navarro charged back with two birdies to square the match on the 33rd. She took the lead for the first time with a scrambling par on the par-3 17th, the 35th hole.

But Superal, who missed her par-putt bid from six feet on the penultimate hole, showed grace under pressure, knocking her approach on the par-5 18th hole to within 10 feet and burying the pressure-packed birdie putt.