KAHUKU, HAWAII, February 28, 2005 
(STAR) The Philippines’ Jennifer Rosales played it smartly with two birdies in the early going then held off amateur and local bet Michelle Wie to capture the $1-million SBS Open by two strokes despite a closing one-over par 73 for her second career LPGA Tour victory on Saturday (Sunday in Manila).

"I was excited to start the year and it turned out to be a pretty good week to start," said Rosales, who collected $150,000 (roughly P8.1 million) for the win.

Rosales, who snapped a five-year title drought on the LPGA tour with a come-from-behind victory in the Chick-Fil-A Championship in Georgia last year, actually opened her 2005 campaign with a solid joint second place finish in the inaugural World Cup in South Africa with Fil-Am Dorothy Delasin two weeks ago.

And she kept that momentum by shooting a bogey-free six-under par 66 at the Turtle Bay Resort Golf Club in the first day to seize control, hung tough with a 69 in the second round to keep her two-stroke lead intact then birdied Nos. 3 and 6 in the final round to cushion the impact of her sputtering finish in the 54-hole tournament. She wound up with a 208, eight-under par.

"(Jenny) Rosales epitomizes the modern Filipino — highly-competitive, goal-oriented and blessed with extraordinary skills and unsinkable talent," President Arroyo said in a statement.

"We commend her for her victory and wish her the best of luck in all future golf tournaments," added the Chief Executive.

"I wanted to take it one shot at a time, don’t panic and that is what I did today," said Rosales, a Smart Communications endorser.

Truly, not even a double-bogey mishap on No. 7 and her two bogeys at the back could shake the 26-year-old Rosales’ confidence as she stayed focused the rest of the way then watched her rivals run out of holes. Wie settled for a 70 while Cristie Kerr matched par 72 for identical 210s.

"I am pretty happy. I got my second win and it is just a good start for me this year," said Rosales, a five-time RP Ladies Open champion. "It feels good. It feels really good because at the end of the year I was really close, the Open, the Tour Championship, it just kills me every time I give it away."

The victory thus raised her career earnings to $1,757,030 and it would surely boost Rosales’ confidence as she goes up for win No. 2 in this week’s MasterCard Classic in Mexico City.

Delasin, who teamed up with Rosales for the Philippines in a number of tournaments during their amateur days, fired a two-under 70 and finished in joint 14th at 216.

Playing in the first of her six sponsor’s exemption events on the LPGA Tour this year, the 15-year-old Wie was undone by her worst start of the tournament.

She shot a one-over 37 on the front — her worst effort by three shots — but she climbed back into contention with three birdies and a 33 on her final nine.

Kerr fired an even-par 72 to tie Wie for second. Reilley Rankin shot a 75 and finished fourth at four-under.

Only 13 golfers finished the tournament under par and Wie’s 70 tied five other golfers for the low round of the day Saturday.

Wie was the only player to shoot under par in all three rounds as she posted her best finish in 18 LPGA starts.

"This is the best finish I have had and it feels great to have it in my home state," Wie said. "I think my game got a lot more consistent. I shot what I wanted to, consistently under par.

"I just have to work on eliminating those stupid mistakes and making a lot more birdies," she added.

Smart Communications, in a statement, said "Jenny’s win in the season’s opener of the prestigious US LPGA is a proud moment for all Filipinos. As Jenny’s major sponsor, we at Smart Communications share the country’s pride in her latest victory, which shows what Filipinos can accomplish on the intermational stage. – with AFP reports

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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