Premium will be on club selection and ball control as the huge international field braces for a tough outing in the 2018 Philippine Amateur Open Championship which gets going today at the Riviera Golf Club in Silang, Cavite.
Strong winds pound the par-72 Couples layout the last couple of days, hinting at an exacting battle for top honors in both the men’s and women’s divisions in the next four days of the country’s premier amateur championship sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation.
But Tom Kim hopes to cash in on his familiarity of the course he calls home as he seeks to rebound from his seven-stroke setback to absentee Sadom Kaewkanjana of Thailand last year. The young Korean, however, faces a slew of players also in hot pursuit of the coveted crown, guaranteeing a spirited title chase in the event serving as part of the PLDT National Amateur Golf Tour.
Rupert Zaragosa headlines the local challenge with the former national champion raring to snap a long spell while Aniceto Mandanas and Carl Corpus have both toughened up in a bid to accomplish an unfinished business after placing fourth and fifth, respectively, last year.
Judson Eustaquio, who teamed up with Tonlits Asistio to win the first National Pro-Am crown last October, is also all primed up for the event, backed by One Tagaytay Place Hotel Suites as official hotel, along with Kristoffer Arevalo, Luis Castro, Aidric Chan, Weiwei Gao, Gab Manotoc, Paolo Wong and Don Petil among others.
Meanwhile, Hee Ji Kim, also of Korea, braces for a shootout with local ace and 2016 winner Harmie Constantino in the women’s side after the duo finished second and third, respectively, to Yuka Saso last year.
Also vying for the crown are Nicole Abelar, Annika Cedo, Kristine Torralba, Kayla Nocum, Junia Gabasa, and Annyka Cayabyab and Laurea Duque, both 13-year-olds but veterans of the Junior World in San Diego.
Last year’s Porter Cup winner Lois Go and recent Malaysian Junior Open champion Mikha Fortuna are also fancied to figure prominently in the title chase together with Hwang Min Jeong, another Korean who has won a tournament on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, a pro circuit.
The event, organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines, drew a number of rising and leading amateurs from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Canada and the US.