Pradera Ladies golf Challenge unwraps

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The inaugural Pradera Ladies Golf Challenge, pitting the country’s leading jungolfers and amateurs and their Southeast Asian counterparts, unfolds today (Sunday, Jan. 15) with both sides all geared up for the Ryder Cup-style duel at the Pradera Golf and Country Club in Lubao, Pampanga.

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Expect fireworks to erupt right in the opening round with each team tipped to field in strong pairs in a bid to gain the momentum needed in such kind of duels, guaranteeing a day-long shootout among the country’s top players and the national team stalwarts of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“It’s always nice to have the upper-hand right from the first round matches and hopefully we can get into that position and maintain that right until the last match,” said Team SEA captain Dato Raby Abbas.

Pau Del Rosario (left) and Atthaya Thitikul hope to lead their respective teams in the Pradera Challenge opener. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Five pairs will tangle in the first two days with two sets of matches on tap, including the foursome in the morning and the best ball in afternoon play. The deciding singles will be played on Tuesday with the team to score 15.5 points winning the perpetual Pradera trophy.

The hosts remain upbeat of their chances in the event put up by Archen Cayabyab and Lubao Mayor Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab along with coach Norman Sto. Domingo as part of their effort to boost the country’s junior and amateur golf program and at the same time foster camaraderie and greater golf relations with regional neighbors.

“We are really serious about winning this event. Motivation doesn’t always come on the course and our team’s secret is everything in their heart, mind and power. We have a great team, perhaps the best golf team ever assembled,” said Team Pradera skipper Chona dela Paz.

Pauline del Rosario, coming off a fourth place effort in last Friday’s Philippine Ladies Open at Wack Wack, and four-time Veritas world junior champion Annyka Cayabyab banner the 10-player Team Pradera that includes Mikha Fortuna, Sofia Chabon, Bernice Ilas, Abby Arevalo, Mika Arroyo, Nicole Abelar, Tomi Arejola and Missy Legaspi with NGAP’s Rolly Romero and former two-time LPGA winner Jennifer Rosales as the other team captains.

Abbas, on the other hand, boasts of a “bunch of young, hardworking, very talented players who are eager to showcase what they have” with Thai teener and Phl Ladies Open runner-up Atthaya Thitikul spearheading Team SEA that also features Napabhach Boon-in, Tunrada Piddon, Onkanok Soisuwan and Kan Bunnabodee, also of Thailand, Malaysians Qistina Balqis, Geraldine Wong, Natasha Oon and Winnie Ng and Michela Tjan of Indonesia with Phunumpa Pornperan as the other team skipper.

“Sometimes it’s good to pair the strong players together and there are times its better to spread them out. It all depends on the situation,” said Abbas on the eve of the event.

“The first day should set the tone of the duel so we expect both sides to come out strong and seize the early initiative,” said Archen Cayabyab, who also hinted at making the event an annual affair at the long par-72 bunker-laden layout with undulating greens.

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