Team Southeast Asia closed out the way it started its Pradera Ladies Challenge campaign – in dominant fashion, beating Team Pradera, 6 1/2-3 1/2, in singles to complete a wire-to-wire triumph at the Pradera Golf and Country Club course in Lubao, Pampanga on Tuesday.
Six points up after the fourball and foursomes in the first two days, the visiting squad cut short the hosts’ early charge in the final round, coming back from 1-3 down in head-to-head matches by taking five of the last six while halving the other to complete a whopping 19 1/2-10 1/2 rout.
“We learned a lot in this event. Some of my Thai players were actually first timers to play in a Ryder Cup format. But all the girls were excited to gain new friends,” said Team SEA co-captain Phunumpa Pornperapan, whose squad composed of national players from Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia dominated their Filipina counterparts in all three days.
They took control, 7-3, in the first day then hiked their lead to 13-7 in the second round and needed just 2 1/2 points in the singles to clinch the duel.
“I’m happy it was a successful tournament. Both teams gave their best,” said Lubao Mayor Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab, who put up the event with Archen Cayabyab and coach Norman Sto. Domingo. “Expect a bigger challenge next year.”
The young Filipinas actually put up a strong fight in the early going, with Mikha Fortuna, Pauline del Rosario and Bernice Ilas hacking out a 2&1, 3&1 and 2&1 decisions over Thais Kan Bunnabodee, Atthaya Thitikul and Tunrada Piddon, respectively, after Malaysian Qistina Azhar toppled Mika Arroyoa, 3&2, in the opening match.
But Team SEA imposed its will in all but one of the last six face-offs with Thai Onkanok Soisuwan defeating club bet Annyka Cayabyab, 5&3, and Michela Tjan of Indonesia securing the crown with a 3&1 victory over Sofia Chabon.
After Abby Arevalo and Geraldine Wong settled for an all-square match, Team SEA never let up and swept the last four matches with Malaysians Natasha Oon and Winnie Ng edging Nicole Abelar, 2&1, and Tomi Arejola, 3&2, respectively, before Napaghach Boon-in of Thailand disposed of Missy Legaspi, 5&3, in the final match.
Despite their setback, Team Pradera co-captain Jennifer Rosales lauded her young wards’ gallant stand and vowed to strike back in next year’s staging of the event organized by Forthinker, Inc., headed by chairman Marilen Nunez
“It was a great tournament. It was fun to teach the kids and I’m proud of my team,” said the two-time LPGA Tour champion.
For a while, the hosts seemed to have gained momentum despite Arroyo’s early loss as Fortuna subdued Bunnabodee, Del Rosario stopped the erstwhile unbeaten Thitikul and Ilas nipped Piddon.
But the rest failed to step up as Cayabyab succumbed to Soisuwan and Tjan dominated Chabon to score the third point for Team SEA and wrap up the duel.