Having snapped a long title spell, Chihiro Ikeda seeks to set up a win streak this time, shooting for a second straight victory on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour in the ICTSI Malarayat Ladies Classic unfolding on Tuesday at the Mt. Malarayat composite courses in Lipa, Batangas.
It took Ikeda, a former amateur hotshot and a SEA Games individual medalist, more than three years to nail the elusive a pro victory, posting a wire-to-wire triumph in the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship in Cavite last month.
She hopes her three-stroke romp over Lovelynn Guioguio will fuel more victories for the Filipino-Japanese shotmaker.
“One win gives you a different kind of push. Now, I’m more inspired to train and compete,” said Ikeda. “I just couldn’t wait to play again.”
But her rivals are also raring to foil her back-to-back title bid and fuel their respective title drives in the P750,000 tournament serving as the sixth leg of the 10-stage circuit sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
They include Filipino-American Cristina Corpus, Sarah Ababa and Jayvie Agojo, all seeking to score a follow-up to their breakthrough wins on a challenging, wind-raked course.
Korean Hwag Min-jeong, who nipped fellow amateur Princess Superal and now-LPGA Tour campaigner Cyna Rodriguez in a playoff to snare the crown last year, won’t be around to defend her title. But the compact field remains as tough as ever, promising a fierce battle for the top P150,000 purse.
Others in the fold are Anya Tanpinco, Appel Fudolin, Eva Miñoza, Lina de Guzman, Lucy Landicho, Majorie Pulumbarit and England’s Sarah Henderson.
Meanwhile, Chanelle Avaricio, coming off a recent win in the Sta. Lucia Tour, heads the amateurs joining the title hunt, along with national champion Harmie Constantino, former Junior World titlist Daniella Uy, Ikuko Kito, Sophia Blanco and Ginelyn Hepoit.