John Terlaje ‘aces’ Hyundai IONIQ 5 at NMC Golf Open


John L. Terlaje, second from left, won a brand new 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 5 SEL from Triple J Motors after acing Hole No. 4 on Day 1 of the NMC Golf Open last Saturday at the Lao Lao Bay Golf & Resort east course. Also in photo are, from left, Triple J Enterprises Inc. vice president Michael Sablan, Gov. Arnold I. Palacios, Triple J Motors general manager Sean Ficke, Northern Marianas College president Dr. Galvin Deleon Guerrero, and NMC vice president of Advancement and Administration Frankie Elliptico. (MARK RABAGO)

Bettina “Betty” Terlaje will now happily allow her husband, John, to play golf on the weekends, after the 51-year-old Commonwealth Health Center staff made a hole-in-one in the fourth hole of the NMC Golf Open last Saturday at the Lao Lao Bay Golf & Resort east course.

The C Flight player came in 13th overall in his division with a stratospheric 45-over, but was the biggest winner of the two-day tournament after taking home a brand new 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 5 SEL from Triple J Motors. The sticker price is a whopping $60,000-plus.

Terlaje, who works at the Physical Therapy department of the hospital, said his family is overjoyed with the new car. “My family is really happy to win this car. I don’t know what else to say. …It’s a nice car and I guess [being electric] it will save us gas.”

Terlaje winning the top-of-the-line electric vehicle—with all the bells and whistles—comes nearly 20 years since Alex Aquiningoc won a brand new 2005 Ford Escape as well as trips to Hong Kong and the Philippines for acing the 17th hole in the 9th Saipan Golf Tournament of Champions, also at the Kagman golf course.

But, unlike Aquiningoc, who is a seasoned golfer, Terlaje actually just returned to the sport after quitting in 2014.

“You know, I’ve been playing for a long time, but I quit 11 years ago. So only after COVID-19 did I come back,” said Terlaje, who is a Marianas Golfers Association member.

As for any special technique prior to hitting the 1-in-a-million shot on Day 1, Terlaje, who idolizes local golf pro Joe “Kamikaze” Camacho, admitted he didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.

“I just grabbed the usual iron I use on that hole—No. 7—and I always had difficulty on the fourth hole as it’s either I swing it short and hit the water or hit the jungle,” he said.

Triple J Motors general manager Sean Ficke said the auto dealership is elated to be part of history and share in the Terlaje family’s joy of winning the IONIQ 5.

“It’s a top-of-the-line, all-wheel drive, all-leather electric vehicle. So very excited and want to congratulate John Terlaje on winning this. …We’ve put up I don’t know how many cars over the last several years and it’s exciting to see somebody finally win,” said Ficke, while also congratulating Northern Marianas College for hosting a superbly ran two-day tournament.

Aside from the 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 5 SEL with Navigation and AWD, Triple J Motors also sponsored another hole-in-one prize—a brand new 2023 Mitsubishi Outlander—on the west course.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at
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