An early roster of 116 players, including 84 in the men’s side, braces for a spirited battle for top honors in the Philippine Amateur Open Golf Championship which gets under way January 4 at Riviera Golf Club’s Couples Course in Silang, Cavite.
Club bet Tom Kim of Korea banners the field that drew top and rising players from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Canada and the US, ensuring four days of fierce action in chase of the country’s premier amateur golfing championship.
Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana, who beat Kim by seven to run away with last year’s crown, won’t be around to defend the crown but the depth of the field remains as talent-laden as ever with the cream of the local crop also eager to stamp their class in the blue-ribbon event sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation.
Paolo Wong and Don Petil, for one, hope to sustain the momentum of their imposing five-shot romp in the just-concluded National Doubles although they will have to do it individually this time with former champion Rupert Zaragosa, Northern Luzon Regional champion Aidric Chan and Weiwei Gao also tipped to contend for the crown in the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines and held as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour.
But they will have their hands full against the likes of Kim Dong Hyun and Lim Su Min of Korea, Malaysians Muhammad Afif Mohd Fathi and Rhaasrikanesh A/L Kanavathi, and Brandon Han, Donovan Lee, Sean Lee and Jeryl Tan of Singapore.
Keen competition is also seen in the women’s side with Harmie Constantino, Lois Go, Clare Legaspi, Sofia Legaspi, and Junia Gabasa all primed up against top rivals from Canada, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Team The Country Club spearhead Mikha Fortuna is also expected to figure in the title race, her confidence boosted by her victory in the Malaysia Junior Open early December, along with Nicole Abelar, Annika Cedo, Laurea Duque, Annika Guangko, Felicia Medalla, Kayla Nocum and Kristine Torralba.
But the locals will be in for a tough outing against an elite foreign cast, headed by Thai Tunrada Piddon and last year’s runner-up Kim Hee Ji and fellow Korean Hwang Min Jeong, who has won a tournament in the country’s premier ladies pro tour.