Team Philippines beefs up its roster as it sets out for the Pradera Verde Ladies Challenge on January 15 to 17, ready to get back at fancied Team Southeast Asia in the second staging of the blue-ribbon event at the Pradera Golf Club in Lubao, Pampanga.
Yuka Saso and Harmie Constantino will suit up for the hosts, vowing to provide the firepower, poise and maturity lacking in the team’s unsuccessful bid in the inaugurals of the unique championship pitting the country’s leading jungolfers and amateurs against the top players from neighboring Southeast Asian countries in a Ryder Cup-style format event.
Saso is the reigning Philippine Amateur Open, Junior Open and Match Play champion while Constantino topped this year’s RVF Cup and Northern Luzon Regional. The duo also led Team Phl to victory in last year’s World Junior Girls title in Canada with the Fil-Japanese shotmaker bagging the individual crown.
“Yuka (Saso) and Harmie (Constantino) are seasoned internationalists, so that gives Team Phl maturity and spunk as we try to get even with Team Southeast Asia,” said coach Norman Sto. Domingo, one of the team’s three skippers in the three-day event put up by Archen Cayabyab and Lubao Mayor Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab as part of their effort to boost the country’s junior and amateur golf program.
The hosts succumbed to a talent-laden Team SEA last year, losing in the four-ball, foursomes and singles competitions, 10 1/2-19 1/2.
But Sto. Domingo and co-team captains Rolly Romero and Daisy Reyes see a different result this time.
“While we acknowledge the depth of Team SEA’s roster, we also have a strong, more mature squad, thus boosting our chances this time,” said Sto. Domingo.
Saso and Constantino actually spearheaded Team Pradera’s record-setting victory in its maiden PAL Ladies Interclub stint last September with outstanding age-groupers Annyka Cayabyab, Nicole Abelar, Kyla Nocum and Tomi Arejola backstopping the squad.
Cayabyab, 13, Abelar, Nocum and Arejola are also in next year’s Team Phl roster along with new recruit Laurea Duque and The Country Club mainstays Mikha Fortuna, Bernice Olivarez-Ilas and Sofia Chabon.
Team SEA will field in a practically new squad, led by Thais Kultihda Pramphun, Phannarai Meesomus, Pimkwan Chookaew, Pinkaew Trachentong and returning Onkanok Soisuwan, with Malaysians Winnie Ng, Ashley Lau, Audrey Tan and Zulaikan Nurzian and Indonesian Michela Tjan, also a member of last year’s winning squad, bolstering the team co-captained by Phunampa Pornperapan and Jantsonn Kan.
Keen competition is expected right in the opening day with the Scramble format in the morning and the alternate shot in the afternoon among five teams on each side. Play shifts to best ball in the second day then back to alternate shot format in the afternoon with the deciding singles (10 matches) set on Jan. 17. The team to score 15.5 points will win the perpetual Pradera trophy, according to the organizing Forthinker Inc., headed by chairman Marilen Nunez.