Chihiro Ikeda brims with confidence as she sets out for another crack at the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour crown, heading the cast in the ICTSI Splendido Classic, which unfolds on Wednesday at Splendido Taal Golf Club.
Ikeda bucked a faltering finish at Eagle Ridge and outlasted Korean amateur Lee Ji Hyeon on the third playoff to snare the crown last Friday, making her the marked player in the P750,000 championship sponsored by ICTSI.
“It really motivates one to play better coming off a win. But like in my past two wins (via playoff), I expect another tough week with a souped-up field,” said Ikeda.
Defending champion Pauline del Rosario toughens up the already formidable compact field led by Symetra Tour campaigners Dottie Ardina, Princess Superal and Cyna Rodriguez with the reigning LPGT Order of Merit also coming into the 54-hole event upbeat of her chances after hurdling the China LPGA Tour qualifying also last week.
That should guarantee a spirited battle for top honors in the fourth leg of this year’s LPGT organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. with Ardina, Superal and Rodriguez all due for a big win following a series of mediocre finishes since December.
Amolkan Phalajivin of Thailand has also rejoined the tour after a long break, seeking to recall the form that netted her the 2014 crown here where she beat Rodriguez by three.
Thirteen other Thais are also in the fold, including former Royal Northwoods leg winner Saruttaya Ngam-Usawan along with Chatprapa Siriprakob, Chonlada Chayanun, Chouvarest Chourkittisopon, J. P. Na Ayuttaya, Kanyalak Preedasuttijit and Mookharin Ladgratok;
Numa Gulyanamitta, Pavarisa Yoktuan, Sarinee Thitiratanakorn, Thanuttra Boonraksasat, Thanya Pattamakijsajul and Tiranan Yoopan.
A slew of talented are also in the cast, led by Lee and fellow Korean and former leg winner Hwang Min-jeong, along with Kim Hui Won, Baek Yeun Jea, Park Kyung Hee, and The Country Club bets Mafy Singson, Sam Dizon and Laia Barron along with Alex Etter and Marianne Bustos.
Other backers of the event are Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZGm PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.