• Pradera Challenge rolls off Jan. 15

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    The country’s leading jungolfers and amateurs gear up for a battle royale against the top players from neighboring Southeast Asian countries in a Ryder Cup-style format event set January 15 to 17 at the Pradera Golf Club in Lubao, Pampanga.

    Dubbed the Pradera Ladies Golf Challenge, the novel three-day championship will pit 10 players from each side with Team Pradera Philippines to be bannered by rising jungolfer Annyka Cayabyab and veteran internationalist Pauline del Rosario and the SEA squad to be led by the aces from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, headed by Thai star Attaya Thitikul.

    “This is going to be an exciting event. Never has there been a duel pitting the best young players in the region in a Ryder Cup-style format,” said Archen Cayabyab, who with Lubao Mayor Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab and swing coach Norman Sto. Domingo drew up and came up with the event as part of their effort to boost the country’s junior and amateur golf program.

    Rising star Annyka Cayabyab raring to showcase her wares. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    Rising star Annyka Cayabyab raring to showcase her wares. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    While Del Rosario, a former Thailand Ladies Amateur champion who strung up three victories in Malaysia and Singapore to close out her 2016 campaign, will anchor the host’s bid, the 12-year-old Cayabyab, a five-time world junior golf champion and youngest Most Outstanding Kapampangan awardee, will provide the youth power in what promises to be a slam-bang duel of shotmaking, putting and strategies.

    “I’m so thrilled to be joining this event and I hope to play to my true potential and be able to help the team,” said the St. Paul Pasig student, who has racked up a number of titles abroad, including the Junior World, the Veritas Junior Golf and the Future Champions of Golf International in California.

    Action is expected to heat up right in Day One with two sets of matches lined up, including the alternate shot format in the morning and the best ball event in afternoon play. Each side will field in five teams.

    Day Two will feature the same set-up with the deciding 10 singles matches on tap in the final day. Winning teams in the first two days will be awarded one point per match with the singles staking 10 points. The team to score 15.5 points wins the duel.

    “We hope to institutionalize this event by holding it annually through the help of the Pradera Golf Club,” said the elder Cayabyab.

    Joining Cayabyab and Del Rosario in Team Pradera Philippines are The Country Club mainstays Mikha Fortuna, Sofia Chabon, Bernice Ilas and Abby Arevalo, along with Mika Arroyo, Nicole Abelar, Tomi Arejola and Missy Legaspi.

    Boosting the hosts’ bid is two-time LPGA Tour champion Jennifer Rosales who will act as the team’s coach along with Chona de la Paz of The Junior Golfers League and Rolly Romero.

    Thitikul, also a multi-titled young star from Ratchaburi, will spearhead Team SEA along with fellow Thais Napabhach Boon-in, Tunrada Piddon, Onkanok Soisuwan and Kan Bunnabodee, Malaysians Qistina Balqis, Geraldine Wong, Natasha Oon and Winnie Ng and Michela Tjan of Indonesia with Dato Raby Abbas and Phunumpa Pornperan as coaches.

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