Team Southeast Asia will lean on chemistry and sheer talent of its youth brigade as it slugs it out with Team Pradera in the inaugural Pradera Ladies Golf Challenge beginning Sunday (Jan. 15) at the sprawling Pradera Golf and Country Club in Lubao, Pampanga.
While acknowledging the host team’s proverbial “home-court” edge, Team SEA skipper Dato Raby Abbas remains confident of her wards’ chances in the Ryder Cup-style format event featuring the country’s top jungolfers and amateurs against 10 leading players from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
“Certainly, the local players have an advantage, knowing the course and having played with the same team players all the time,” said Abbas. “But Team SEA players are upbeat in performing well and they are at the same time excited to be in the same team with those who are usually their ‘opponents’ during amateur Open tournaments.”
She also guaranteed that her players’ enthusiasm would work to their advantage although she has emphasized the need for her wards to put up some distance off the tees and come up with sharp putting on the long par-72 layout with sloping, unpredictable putting surface to measure up with the local aces.
Led by Thai teen star Attaya Thitikul, Team SEA also includes 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 Phunumpa Pornperan serving as the team’s other skipper.
They will be up against a crack selection of local aces, led by former Thailand Amateur Open champion Pauline del Rosario and four-time Veritas world junior titlist Annyka Cayabyab along with Mikha Fortuna, Sofia Chabon, Bernice Ilas, Abby Arevalo, Mika Arroyo, Nicole Abelar, Tomi Arejola and Missy Legaspi with Chona de la Paz of The Junior Golfers’ League, NGAP’s Rolly Romero and former two-time LPGA winner Jennifer Rosales as team captains.
The three-day event, a brainchild of Archen Cayabyab and Lubao Mayor Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab in consultation with Coach Norman Sto. Domingo, will have the two sides clashing in the four-ball and foursome matches in the first two days and the deciding singles on Jan. 17. The team to score 15.5 points takes the perpetual trophy.
“Organizing the Pradera Verde Ladies Challenge is an honor and a privilege. We are working on all preparation to provide our foreign participants and local players with the warmest welcome and most enjoyable experience. We are doing our best to be able to extend what Pradera Verde Golf and Country Club and the Philippines have to offer. We look forward to host more international golf tournaments in the future,” Marilen Nunez, chairman of the organizing Forthinker, Inc.
Like Team Pradera, Team SEA also stressed the need for a strong start with Abbas saying: “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.”
“Over the years, the Philippines has produced some strong lady amateurs in the region so this would be an exceptional wonderful event and we look forward to a fun rivalry match. But we have a bunch of young, hardworking, very talented players who eager to showcase what they have in store,” said Abbas.