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Pro stars back Team Pradera in PH Ladies

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LPGA Tour-bound Dottie Ardina and three other Filipino pros head to Pampanga today to provide support and boost Team Pradera’s confidence as it gears up for a showdown with Team Southeast Asia in the first Pradera Ladies Challenge beginning tomorrow (Sunday, Jan. 15) at the Pradera Golf and Country Club in Lubao.

“It’s an exciting duel and we hope to help motivate our players against their counterparts from Southeast Asia,” said Ardina, who with Cyna Rodriguez, Princess Superal and Chihiro Ikeda, will be playing a rare supporting role as Team Pradera’s crack mix of jungolfers and amateurs slug it out their SEA counterparts in the Ryder Cup-style duel.

The four pros are veterans of team competitions, including the SEA Games, the World Amateurs and the Queen Sirikit Cup with Ardina winning the Sirikit individual gold in 2011, and their inputs or mere presence are expected to help boost the host squad’s confidence.

“Team SEA boasts of a mix of talented players some of whom we have played in the past. We hope our mere presence will inspire or prop up our team,” said Superal, many-time spearhead of the national team in various international competitions.

Both Team Pradera and Team SEA are expected to come into the event in top form, having competed in the just-concluded Philippine Ladies Open but the hosts hope to cash in on whatever edge they may have in terms of local knowledge and chemistry.

“The four pros’ presence is indeed a big boost to the team’s cause and we hope our players will draw inspiration from them and be motivated to dish out their best against their equally talented rivals,” said Archen Cayabyab, who with Lubao Mayor Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab and Coach Norman Sto. Domingo, spearheaded the staging of the event.

Pauline del Rosario and four-time Veritas world junior titlist Annyka Cayabyab banner Team Pradera that includes Mikha Fortuna, Sofia Chabon, Bernice Ilas, Abby Arevalo, Mika Arroyo, Nicole Abelar, Tomi Arejola and Missy Legaspi with Chona de la Paz of The Junior Golfers’ League, NGAP’s Rolly Romero and former two-time LPGA winner Jennifer Rosales as team captains.

But Team SEA, which features the top players from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, also looks formidable on a team built around Thai teen star Attaya Thitikul, Napabhach Boon-in, Tunrada Piddon, Onkanok Soisuwan and Kan Bunnabodee, Malaysians Qistina Balqis, Geraldine Wong, Natasha Oon and Winnie Ng and Michela Tjan of Indonesia with Dato Raby Abbas and Phunumpa Pornperan as team captains.

The two sides clash in the four-ball and foursome matches in the first two days while the deciding singles will be played on Jan. 17. The team to score 15.5 points takes the perpetual trophy, according to Marilen Nunez, chairman of the organizing Forthinker, Inc.

“Over the years, the Philippines has produced some strong lady amateurs in the region so this would be an exceptional wonderful event and we look forward to a fun rivalry match. But we have a bunch of young, hardworking, very talented players who are eager to showcase what they have in store,” said Abbas.