TAGAYTAY – The Ladies Philippine Golf Tour kicks off its new season with the ICTSI Champion Tour today, with the local aces up against a stellar field from Taiwan, Thailand, Japan, Korea and China at the Splendido Taal Golf Club here.
The $75,000 championship is actually one of the two events co-sanctioned by the Taiwan LPGA and the LPGT, this being the third leg of the Taiwan’s pro circuit with Chen Yu-ju, currently No. 4 in the TLPGA Order of Merit, leading the 26-player contingent in the title chase tipped to go down-to-the-wire.
Thailand, which has won a number of tournaments on the LPGT, is fielding in a 23-player cast, headed by former winners Saruttaya Ngam-usawan, Wannasiri Sirisampant and Amolkan Phalajivin while Korea will be led by former amateur LPGT winner Hwang Min-jeong.
But the local bets will be up to the challenge with Symetra Tour campaigners Dottie Ardina, Cyna Rodriguez and Mia Piccio and former US Girls’ Junior champion and many-time LPGT titlist Princess Superal all primed up for the championship organized and conducted by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Focus will also be on Pauline del Rosario, a multi-titled amateur who’s launching his pro career in this tournament serving as the first of two Taiwan LPGA events, the other being the ICTSI Champion Tour, also a $75,000 championship, at Mt. Malarayat in Lipa City, Batangas next week.
Del Rosario hopes to come out strong in her 8:10 a.m. flight with Taiwanese Yen Hsin-ning and Nattagate Nimitpongkul of Thailand while Ardina, priming up for her return stint in the lucrative LPGA Tour, starts at 7:40 a.m. in the company of Kuo Ai-chen of Taiwan and Thai Piyathida Ployumsri, both on No. 1.
Rodriguez, who has dominated the first three ICTSI LPGT editions, served notice of her title drive as she led her team that included Zeus Mangubat, Rolando Bool and Dan Salvador to victory with an -18 under 54 in yesterday’s pro-am tournament. She drew Thai veteran Saraporn Chamchoi and Weng Liting of Taiwan at 8:20 a.m., also on No. 1.
Taiwan’s Chang Hsuan-ping and partners Gerry Brufal, Jonjon Tolentino and Romel Valloyas placed second with a 57 while Chen, with Norie Casalme, Jun Tuplano and Ricky Loyola, came in third with a 59.
Piccio, meanwhile, will play alongside Thai Mookharin Ladgratok and Lin Tzu-chi of Taiwan at 7:50 a.m. on the first tee while Superal, gearing up for her first crack at the Symetra Tour later this month, tests Thai Thanuttra Boonraksasat and Chen’s mettle at 8 a.m. in what promises to be an early duel of the fancied bets in the event backed by ICTSI, BDO, Champion, Custom Clubmakers, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Titleist and Event Captain.
Amateur Yuka Saso is also expected to figure in the title chase with the reigning World Junior Girls individual champion slugging it out with Thai Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul and Huang Hsien-wen of Taiwan.