An early shootout among the top guns looms as the $80,000 ICTSI Philippine Ladies Masters unwraps today with a number of explosive pairings on tap at the Alabang Country Club in Muntinlupa.
Taiwan LPGA Tour Order of Merit leader Lin Tzu-Chi drew Fil-Am and former LPGA Tour campaigner Demi Runas and Thai ace Chorphaka Jaengkit in the first flight at 7 a.m. on No. 1, while LPGA Tour-bound Dottie Ardina slugs it out with pro-am winner Yeh Hsin-Ning of Taiwan and Thai Saraporn Chamchoi at 7:20 a.m., also on the first hole.
Korean Lee Jeong-Hwa, seeking a sweep of the three ICTSI Ladies Philippine Tour and Taiwan LPGA Tour-sanctioned events here after ruling the Spendido and Southwoods legs last March, sets out against Fil-Am and Luisita leg winner Cristina Corpus and Taiwanese Lee Chia-Pei on No. 10 at 7:10 a.m. while former three-time LPGT OOM winner and LPGA Tour campaigner Cyna Rodriguez tees off at 10:50 a.m. with Taiwan’s Huang Szu-Hsuan and Dussavi Soppimjit of Thailand, also at the backside of the par-72 layout.
“No one holds an advantage here. The course looks easy but trouble lurks in every corner so we have to be focused,” said Ardina, who missed gaining a full LPGA Tour card with a joint 21st finish in the LPGA Q-School Final Stage but is assured of an LPGA stint in 10-15 events as Category 17 qualifier.
Focus will also be on the 11:20 a.m. clash between Princess Superal and top amateur Yuka Saso in a duel of former US Girls’ Junior champion and the reigning World Junior Girls titlist with Thai Pattaraporn Mounchoo completing the group.
“With its tight fairways, the course requires precision shots. Some fairways are tight and we have to be wary of the trees,” said Superal, priming up for next year’s Symetra Tour campaign.
All groupings in the 90-player field are actually talent-laden with campaigners on the Taiwan LPGA and LPGT evenly spread out, including a slew of top amateurs, guaranteeing a fierce encounter right at the start of the 54-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. in cooperation with the TLPGA.
The Taiwanese served notice of their bid as they dominated yesterday’s pro-am with Yeh teaming up with Enteng Romano, Edison Yap and Celso Villegas to card a 16-under 56 and beat Pan Yen-Ling, Ramon Nolasco, George Cabarrus and Rhoneil Cousart by three. Chen Yu-Ju, along with Mark Imperial, Eduardo Palma and Eduardo Sumulong also put in a 59 but lost in the countback for runner-up honors.
Pauline Del Rosario, the spearhead of Team The Country Club, is also tipped to contend early, raring to flaunt the form that netted her three straight titles the last four weeks, including two in Malaysia and in Singapore. She drew Malaysian Dianne Luke and Thai Pakpring Duangchan in the 11:40 a.m. flight on No. 1.
Hwang Min-Jeong, the Korean lass who humbled the pro field that included Rodriguez and Superal at Mt. Malarayat last year, is also in the fold, pitted against Taiwanese I-An Chen and Michelle Low of Malaysia at 11:10 a.m., also on the first hole, while national champion Harmie Constantino, who also won the Mt. Malarayat leg of this year’s LPGT, is grouped with Orchard leg winner Chihiro Ikeda and Shareen Lai of Malaysia at 8 a.m. at the backside.
Other amateurs fancied to figure in the title chase in the event, backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Champion, TaylorMade, Ping, Yamaha and Pacsports, are Mikha Fortuna, Abegail Arevalo and Sam Martirez of TCC, Daniella Uy, Sam Bruce, Annika Guangko, Isabela Miravite, Marvi Monsalve, and Taiwanese Tu Chun-Ting, Lai Yi-Ting, Hou Yu-Sang and Chang Tzu-Yi.