Amateur Hwang Min Jeong tries to close out the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour season in style, shooting for a second straight victory in the P.5 million Manila Southwoods Ladies Classic unfolding on Tuesday at Southwoods’ Legends course in Carmona, Cavite.
Hwang humbled Cyna Rodriguez and fellow amateur ace Princess Superal in a thrilling finish to snare the ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Classic crown last month with the 14-year-old Korean looming as the player to beat in this closing leg of the eight-stage circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
But she will be as much tested as the rest of the field in the upcoming 54-hole tournament, which includes eight Thailand players out to duplicate their compatriot Meechai Wichanee’s title romp at ICTSI Splendido last April.
Saraporn Chamchoi, for one, sets out with a personal mission of ending a string of heartbreak finishes in the country’s premier ladies circuit this year, including two second runner-up efforts at Wack Wack and Luisita, making her a top contender for the top P100,000 purse.
Other Thai players tipped to join the chase for top honors are Sarauttaya Ngam-usawan, Mookharin Ladgratok, Wannasiri Sirisampant, Jaruporn Palakawongnaayuttawa, Chayuda Singhsuwan, Chattarat Chatwarrarat and Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang, who tied Chamchoi at third at Luisita.
But focus will still be on the young Hwang, a Grade 9 student at Holy Infant School in Muntinlupa, who will be trying to become only the double leg winner in the circuit put up by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.
The other amateurs hoping to put one over the pros are national team mainstay Yuka Saso, Alex Etter, Koh Eu na, also of Korea, Ashia Nocum, Isabela Miravite and veteran internationalist Annika Cedo, who will also be trying to cash in on her familiarity with the bunker-laden layout she calls home.
Sarah Ababa, meanwhile, heads the local challenge with the Filipina ace seeking to come up with a follow-up to her LPGT Sherwood victory last June while former leg winner and Philippine Ladies Open champion Jayvie Agojo hopes to snap a number of poor showings with a strong finish at Southwoods.
Chihiro Ikeda, the former SEA Games gold medalist still in search of a breakthrough pro victory, is also in the fold, along with Apple Fudolin, Lucy Landicho, Eva Miñoza, Anya Tanpinco, Sylvia Torres, Lovelyn Guioguio, Tracy Que, Majorie Pulumbarit and former Philippine Ladies Open winner Heidi Chua.
The 54-hole tournament also serves as the final leg of the tour launched the circuit in 2013 to boost ladies pro golf and at the same time lure the top players in the region.