Yuka Saso, the reigning World Junior Girls champion, headlines a talent-laden roster of amateurs raring to slug it out with a crack international pro field in the $80,000 ICTSI Philippine Ladies Masters unfolding Wednesday at the Alabang Country Club in Muntinlupa.
Saso, who bagged the individual crown and led the Philippines to the team championship in the World Junior Girls championship in Canada last September, expects a tough outing against the cream of the pro crop but remains confident as ever to figure for top honors in the 54-hole tournaement serving as the final leg of the Taiwan LPGA Tour and the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.
Also in the amateur list is national champion Harmie Constantino, member of that World Junior Girls champion squad and winner of the LPGT ICTSI Malarayat Ladies Classic last July, and Korean teener Hwang Min Jeong, who also humbled the pro field to win at Malarayat last year.
Pauline del Rosario also hopes to ride the crest of a three-title run, including two in Malaysia and Singapore, as the top The Country Club bet joins the title hunt along with TCC teammate Mikha Fortuna, Abegail Arevalo and Sam Martirez in the event sponsored by ICTSI and co-organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and TLPGA.
Others in the fold are Annika Guangko Isabela Miravite and Marvi Monsalve.
But focus will still be on Korean Lee Jeong Hwa, who swept the first two legs of the Taiwan LPGA and ICTSI LPGT at Splendido and Southwoods along with current TLPGA Order of Merit frontrunner Lin Tzu-chi and veteran Thai campaigners and former LPGT winners Wannasiri Sirisampant Wannasiri Sirisampant, Saruttaya Ngam-usawan and Amolkan Phalajivin.
The locals are also out to zero in on the top $17,000 purse with the LPGA Tour-bound Dottie Ardina heading the cast that includes Cyna Rodriguez, Mia Piccio, Jayvie Agojo, Chihiro Ikeda, Sarah Ababa and former US Girls’ Junior titlist Princess Superal, who marked her pro debut with back-to-back victories at LPGT Sherwood and Eastridge legs last September.
“I like my chances and I’ll do my best to stay in contention,” said Superal, who fell short of her first crack at the LPGA Tour but gained a card at the Symetra Tour. “I still have to work on my iron games and polish my putting.”
A number of Thai aces are also in the fold, each gearing up for a crack at the top $17,000 purse put up by the sponsoring ICTSI with Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Champion, TaylorMade, Ping, Yamaha and Pacsports as backers.
Meanwhile, the field tests the Alabang layout in tomorrow’s (Tuesday) pro-am with the leading pros teaming up with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Champion, TaylorMade, Ping, Yamaha and Pacsports.
Also seeing action in the tournamen are regular campaigners Saraporn Chamchoi, Walailak Satarak, Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang, Piyathida Ployumsri, Chatprapa Siriprakob, Chonticha Tonkaew and Kanpahnitnan Muangkhumsakul.
Demi Runas, a Fil-Am shotmaker who has been campaigning on the Symetra Tour, is also tipped to contend for the championship along with Indonesian Jessica Lydia, Korean Euna Koh and Canadian Kimberly Risulmi.