Lee Jeong-hwa, who bested the cream of the local crop and a slew of Thai aces to become the first Korean to win the Philippine Ladies Open crown in 2012, is back in the local hunt as she spices up the cast in the $75,000 ICTSI Ladies Open unfolding March 11 at Southlink Golf Club in Las Piñas.
The Busan-native’s entry further boosted the already-formidable roster headed by the Taiwanese, Thais, Malaysians and Japanese who are all geared up for the top $15,000 purse staked in the 54-hole tournament serving as the fourth leg of this year’s Taiwan LPGA.
Meanwhile, practice round will be on Monday with the field also set to see action in the pro-am tournament Tuesday where they will be paired by officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including presentor Champion Infinity and Nike, Sharp and Custom Clubmakers.
Focus will also be on American Tiffany Tavee, who is raring to atone for her playoff setback to Thai Nontaya Srisawang in the Taiwan LPGA’s third leg – the Grand Royal Open—last month.
The Thais are also fancied to contend for the crown with Saraporn Chamchoi, Thanuttra Boonraksasat, Sarauttaya Ngam-usawan, Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul and Alisara Wedchakama out to come up with a follow-up to Srisawang’s victory.
But the local bets are also itching to defend their turf with Symetra Tour campaigners Dottie Ardina and Mia Piccio backing up back-to-back LPGT Order of Merit champion Cyna Rodriguez in the blue-ribbon event. Other local aces in the fold are Jayvie Agojo and Chihiro Ikeda.
The event, co-organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments and Taiwan LPGA, also serves as the kickoff leg of the eight-stage ICTSI Ladies PGT, which aims to host more foreign tour legs in the future.
Thai Amolkan Phalajivin, who snapped Rodriguez’s streak and scored a maiden LPGT win at Splendido, has also been invited to the event sponsored by ICTSI along with fellow Thais Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang, Hathaikarn Wongkaikijphaisal, Kurika Jang and Piyathida Ployumsri, Sarah Henderson of Great Britain, Malaysian Ainil Bakar, Singapore’s Christabel Goh and amateur Jen Goh.
The talent-laden Taiwan contingent will be led by Chen Szu-Han, Chen I-Wen, Yeh Hsin-Ning, Lee Hsin, Huang Pei-wen, Lee Tai-ling and Liu Ching-ju while Gu Na-eun, Kang Ji-won and Hwan Ye-nah joins Lee Jeong-hwa in the Korean squad.