Pauline del Rosario seeks to spike a sterling rookie season with another victory this week, armed with a swing and confidence that have netted her four championships in the last six legs of the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.
But the ICTSI Philippine Ladies Masters firing off on Thursday at The Country Club looks a lot tougher for the 18-year-old shotmaker given the depth of the competing international field and a course that has bedeviled even the games of the best in the men’s tour.
In fact, Del Rosario has opted to tone down expectations of another strong showing in the $80,000 event, saying she still has to learn as a rookie campaigner while citing the make-up of the field and a course whose length and wind factor put stern options on shotmaking, precision and wits.
“I have no expectations for this is still my rookie year and I am still trying to learn as much as I can from experienced players,” said Del Rosario, whose string of victories, however, underscored the guts and poise rarely seen in young, first-time pros.
That included a come-from-behind triumph in Taiwan last September where she rallied from seven down in the final round and nipped the host country’s top player Yu Ju Chen by one to snatch the TLPGA and Royal Open title, becoming the first Filipina to win on the lucrative Taiwan LPGA Tour.
But the upcoming 54-hole championship boasts of the biggest, toughest field ever-assembled here with China LPGA top players, headed by Zhang Yunjie, Liu Yan and Li Xiya, joining Taiwan LPGA aces Hsieh Yu-Ling, Ching Huang and Chang Hsuan-Ping in the event put up by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
This also marks the first LPGT tie-up with the China LPGA after the former linked it up with Taiwan LPGA two years ago, further boosting the country’s first and premier ladies circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. in terms of prestige and participation.
Forty-seven players from the CLPGA and 30 TLPGA campaigners will slug it out with 22 other LPGT bets in the richest tournament in this side of the Phl circuit backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.
Symetra Tour campaigners Princess Superal and Cyna Rodriguez are also in the fold along with a slew of talented players from Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore,
New Zealand and South Africa.
After dominating the field at Splendido, Del Rosario buckled down to work and worked on her shots, short game and putting, anticipating an uphill battle against the biggest field ever-assembled here and a daunting course which underwent a two-year renovation to conform to world standard.
“I just try to make my shots more solid in preparation for the windy condition. I’m really excited to see how we perform with the new TCC layout,” said Del Rosario, whose seven-stroke victory at Splendido hiked her title haul to four and secured her the LPGT Order of Merit title with two legs left in the record 11-stage circuit.