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PH golfers eye Asiad gold

By Rey Bancod

Not since Jennifer Rosales, Dorothy Delasin and Ria Quiazon in 1998 has the country formed a golf team what many believe can end a 32-year-old gold medal drought in the Asian Games.

United States collegiate stars Lois Kay Go and Bianca Pagdanganan and Fil-Japanese phenom Yuka Saso have been tapped to see action in the 2018 Games to be hosted by Indonesia less than three weeks from now.

The team’s composition was made possible by sportsman Martin Lorenzo who has taken the helm of the National Golf Association of the Philippines (NGAP).

“It’s a dream team, no doubt,” said NGAP secretary-general Bones Floro who left his job as Wack Wack Golf Club general manager to help oversee the country’s golf program.

Floro, grandson of the late Crispa sportsman-philanthropist Danny Floro, said they are leaving no stone unturned in their bid to match Ramon Brobio’s individual gold medal in the Seoul Asiad in 1986.

TESTING THE COURSE

With the exception of Saso, the men’s and women’s squads were sent to Jakarta a few weeks ago to sample the Pondok Indah Golf Course, site of the four-day competition that starts on Aug. 23.

Off the blue tees, Go said the course measures 6,800 yards, about 500 yards longer than what they are used to in the United States.

The 19-year-old Boston College junior said the length should pose no problem for Saso and Pagdanganan, both long-hitters.

But Go hopes that what she lacks in power, she can make up with consistency.

Spending five hours daily at the Cebu Country Club keeps Go in shape and ready for her Asiad debut.

“I think we can win the gold, but it would require the best of us,” she said.

Go, who is set to play in the Kuala Lumpur Amateur Open this week, sees the Thais, Japanese and Koreans among the favorites, but is not discounting the home country.

Go and Pagdanganan are going to the Asiad toughened by stints in the US collegiate circuit while Saso has been dominant at home with two international wins.

NCAA MAINSTAY

Only last May, Pagdanganan powered University of Arizona to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) women’s championship that earned her an LPGA exemption at the Marathon Classic played last month in Ohio.

Pagdanganan made the cut and tied for 67th at three-over par 287 at the Highlands Meadows Golf Club.

Saso, on the other hand, is the reigning Philippines Ladies Open champion. She won the Victorian Junior Masters in Australia and the Thunderbird International Junior in the United States.

Go is best remembered for firing a final round 65 that won her the Women’s Porter Cup last year in the US.

Saso and Pagdanganan are still out of the country and are expected to come home in time for the team’s Aug. 16 departure.

Golf has accounted for 12 Asian Games medals for the country since 1951 – one gold, four silvers and seven bronzes.

Rosales, Delasin and Quizon won the bronze in the team event in 1998 in Thailand.

Miguel Tabuena won the country’s last Asiad medal – a silver in the Guangzhou Games in 2010.

Making up the men’s team are US collegian Lloyd Jefferson Go, Luis Castro, Rupert Zaragosa and Wei Wei Gao.

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