Bianca Pagdanganan sets out for the Champion Infinity Philippine Ladies Amateur Open 2018 wary of a crack international field but hopeful of a title repeat when the 56th staging of the country’s premier championship is fired off January 10.
Pagdanganan put up a three-day display of brilliant shotmaking, iron play and putting and ran away with a record nine-stroke romp over Thai ace Atthaya Thithikul on a stirring 16-under 200 total, also a new PLO mark, at Wack Wack’s West course last year.
But the Gonzaga University mainstay faces a tougher set of rivals this time, led by a young but talented Thai delegation along with young aces from Taiwan, Singapore and Japan and a local crew spearheaded by the seasoned Yuka Saso and Harmie Constantino.
Meanwhile, registration is still open with fee pegged at P8,500 for locals and $250 for foreigners. For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
The Orchard’s Palmer Course is also expected to provide a different kind of challenge for the competing field, which includes 20 players in the Open division, another 20 in the Class A and 22 in Class B, according to the organizing Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines.
Backers of the event are Champion Infinity, Eva Air, San Miguel Corp., Metro Pacific, Atty. Gilberto Duavit, Inquirer, Alveo Land, NGAP, Golfer’s Club Shares, Inc., Province of Cavite, Luisita Golf and Country Club, Mileage Asia, Vermogen, Golf Depot, Orchard Golf and Country Club, Alabang Ladies Chapter, Forest Hills GCC, Tagaytay Highlands, Sta. Elena Golf Club, Manila Golf Club and Canlubang GCC with TIB Taishan and The Turf Company-Texas Eagle as hole-in-one sponsors.
In dominating the field and scoring her breakthrough PLO win, Pagdanganan dropped just two bogeys against 19 birdies in three days. She took control by two after 18 holes, padded it to five in the second then led by as many as 11 in one stretch of the final day before posting the most lopsided win in recent years of the annual event that had seen a number of endgame thrillers, including Princess Superal’s one-stroke escape over Pauline Del Rosario and Saso at Midlands in 2016.
But Pagdanganan braces for a tough challenge from the likes of Onkanok Soisuwan, Pimkwan Chookaew, Kultida Pramphun, Phannarai Meesom-Us and Pinkaew Trachuentong of Thailand, Shannon Tan, Callista Chen and Hailey Loy of Singapore and Japanese Chieri Mabuchi and Tae Saito.
Focus will also be on the local aces, led by Saso and Constantino, along with Sam Bruce, Tomi Arejola, Nicole Abelar, Kristine Torralba, Sophia Legaspi, Felicia Medalla, Annika Cedo and Junia Gabasa along with Mikha Fortuna, Sam Dizon, Laia Barro and Rafaella Singson of Team The Country Club.