IF CHICHIRO Ikeda is still sad after losing a virtually won crown, can't blame her.

I refer to the recent 48th Philippine Ladies Open Golf championship.

Very uncharacteristic of Ikeda to absorb what she had absorbed: Lose a title that everybody thought was hers.

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Before the tournament, Ikeda, whose father is a Japanese and who is a protégé of Imelda Garcia of Davao City, was fresh from a brilliant gold medal victory in the recent Laos Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

In anchoring the country's victory, Ikeda won the individual gold and shared honors in the team gold medal as well.

Thus, Ikeda was the heavy favorite to win the Ladies Open at Manila Southwoods.

All indications point to her romp of the pack when Ikeda opened up with a five-under-par 67 for a five-shot lead over Lovelyn Guioguio, and six over Cyna Rodriguez.

And even as Ikeda sort of stumbled in the second round with a 73, she was still up by three.

But then, everything fell apart in the final round for Ikeda, ballooning to 78 to yield the title by two shots to Cyna, who closed out with a 67.

Three putts in the first hole for Ikeda, then four putts for a triple in the next hole. That triggered her collapse.

"There seemed to be an adrenaline rush," said ICTSI's Primo Nestor Mendoza of Ikeda. "Her first putts were too strong, her drives mostly wild."

Said Ikeda's coach Bong Lopez: "One of those days na masama lahat. Pero composed and calm. Champion talaga in victory and in defeat."

In golf, indeed, you can never tell.

You are brilliant today, you are a dud tomorrow.

Added Primo Nestor: "After going four-over in two holes, Chiro kept her poise and finished only 2-over in her last 16 holes. That's a true mark of maturity."

And a huge display of a big, fighting heart!

RED LETTER DAY. My best wishes to Ramon and May Uy for their 35th wedding anniversary January 19. Here's wishing for many, many more to come...