Cyna Rodriguez and Dottie Ardina take time out from their respective US campaigns to banner the local challenge against a slew of Taiwan LPGA Tour campaigners, both upbeat of their chances in the $75,000 ICTSI Champion Tour unfolding on March 9 at Splendido Taal Golf Club in Tagaytay.
The two Filipina aces have been in deep training as early as last month and both expect to reach peak form in time for the three-day championship serving as the kickoff leg of this year’s ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour and the first of two Taiwan LPGA events jointly presented by Champion and TLPGA which the country is hosting this month.
“I’m getting myself back into championship form. It’s just a quick fix and then I’m ready to go but I have to focus more on the game and hope everything will turn out fine,” said Rodriguez.
The duo are also out to atone for their mediocre stints in the inaugural TLPGA event, the ICTSI Ladies Open, won by Korean Hwang Ye-Nah at Southlinks last year with the former ending up sixth and the latter finishing tied for 23rd.
But Rodriguez has since improved, gaining an LPGA Tour card with a strong joint fourth finish in the Final LPGA Q-School, while Ardina honed up by competing on the Symetra Tour, the farm league of the LPGA.
“I’m excited to play in my first tournament for the year. I hope I could get one win before heading to the US,” said Ardina, winner of at least three LPGT events.
Rodriguez, a former Philippine Ladies Open and reigning three-time ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit winner, is also using the upcoming tournament to toughen up after missing the cut in two legs of the LPGA after debuting with a joint 72nd finish in Bahamas.
The event has lured 50 TLGPA players, including Thai Kanphanitnan Muangkhumaskul, who ruled the TLPGA kickoff leg’s Hitachi Ladies Classic, and five in the current Top 20 money list of the Taiwan circuit – Yu Pei-lin (No. 8), Chen Yu-Ju (No. 10), Huang Ching (No. 12), Lu Ya Huei (No. 18) and Pan Yen-ling (No. 19).
The same field will vie in the ICTSI Champion Tour at Manila Southwoods on March 16-18 at the Legends course in Carmona, Cavite, another $75,000 tournament co-presented by Champion and TLPGA and backed by adidas, Custom Clubmakers, KZG, TaylorMade, Champion, Summit Natural Drinking Water, Pacsports, Sharp and Rustans Supermarket.
Other local players tipped to crowd the favorites for the championship are Symetra Tour campaigner Mia Piccio, last year’s LPGT Sherwood winner Sarah Ababa, Fil-Am Cristina Corpuz, who ruled the LPGT Luisita, former SEA Games gold medalist Chihiro Ikeda, and former PH Ladies Open champion and LPGT leg winner Jayvie Agojo.
Others joining the title hunt are former Philippine Ladies Open champion Lee Jeong-hwa and fellow Koreans, Kang Ji-won, Grace Lee and Gu Na-eun, Japanese Tomoko Takahashi, Fumika Kawagishi, Ai Asano, Senno Yasufuku and Mayumi Chinzei, and Aretha Pan and Dianne Luke of Malaysia.