Conlogue win in Portugal sends title race to France

With an opportunity to improve upon a healthy lead in the season’s final stretch, Tyler Wright saw her advantage over Courtney Conlogue actually diminish at the Cascais Women’s Pro.

Conlogue denied Wright her fifth win in eight contests this season, winning the final matchup everyone hoped for to continue the world title race into France.

It’s the second win of the year for Conlogue, pulling her to within 5,250 points of Wright’s total. Entering the contest, there was a scenario for Wright to clinch the world title with a win and a Conlogue quarterfinal exit. So heading onto the next tour stop with a smaller margin is huge swing in fortune for both.

Four Hawaii wahine — Carissa Moore, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Malia Manuel and Coco Ho — reached the quarterfinal round, but three of their runs ended there. Moore suffered an upset defeat to Ho when Coco managed to work a necessary score in the final minute. The fifth-place result effectively ends Moore’s chances at a fourth world title. She’s still in third for the season, but she wouldn’t catch Wright even with wins at both the Roxy Pro France and Maui Women’s Pro.

It’s a big result for Ho, reaching her first semifinal of the year and bumping up to 13th in the rankings. She has lots of work to do to still reach the top 10, but this was a necessary step in the right direction.

Weston-Webb stays in fourth for the season, losing a nail biter to Johanne Defay in the quarters. It’s the sixth time in eight events that Tati has reached at least the quarterfinals. While it may not be the result she had hoped for, she did get to then watch boyfriend Jesse Mendes win the Billabong Pro Cascais. Mendes propels into 10th on the Qualifying Series with the victory, so he’s in position to make a run at the 2017 Championship Tour.

Manuel took out Sally Fitzgibbons on her run to the quarters, but she was then blitzed by Conlogue to earn the fifth-place result. She’ll remain in seventh place for the season and has a firm grasp on re-qualifying via the CT. Many QS competitors would be very happy to see Manuel, Sage Erickson and either Laura Enever or Nikki Van Dijk remain in the CT top 10, opening up those QS qualifying positions.

It was a solid event for the Hawaii crew at the heavy Cascais wave, but Wright and Conlogue have successfully separated themselves. Wright not only holds the points advantage, but she has historically performed better at these final two stops. She’s the defending champ in France and reached the Maui final two years ago. Conlogue fell out of the 2015 world title race with ninth-place results at these last two events.

There seems to be nothing Conlogue wants more than to win a world title. Wright has shown a similar passion with a much more stoic, competitive approach this season. It has obviously suited her well in her results.

Another run to the final in France would clinch Wright’s first crown, but anything short of that would keep Conlogue’s hopes alive as the tour comes back to Maui to end the season.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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