Team Southeast Asia sets out for the Pradera Verde Ladies Challenge in high spirits, ready to thwart Team Philippines’ expected fightback in the second staging of the event on January 15 to 17 at the Pradera Verde Golf and Country Club in Lubao, Pampanga.
Though the visiting team will miss the services of some of the aces who anchored their domination of last year’s inaugurals of the novel event, co-team captains Phunampa Pornperapan and Jantsonn Kan have come up with a young but formidable squad all primed up for the championship which pits the country’s leading jungolfers and amateurs against the top players from neighboring SEA countries in a Ryder Cup-style format event.
“We’re optimistic of our chances. Though we only have Onkanok (Soisuwan) as holdover from the Thai group plus two youngsters aged 12 and 13, the team is keen for competition,” said Pornperapan, who has tapped Kultida Pramphun, Phannarai Meesomus, Pimkwan Chookaew and Pinkaew Trachentong to backstop Team SEA.
For Kan, the Malaysian skipper is also bringing in three new players but still has last year’s mainstay Winnie Ng, who is expected to provide the leadership and deliver again along with Ashley Lau, Audrey Tan and Zuliakah Nurzian and Indonesian Michela Tjan, also a member of last year’s winning squad.
“I think Winnie will definitely do better than last year. Ashley is a more mature player who has been playing in Australia the last three years,” said Kan. “Overall, this is a team event with an equally strong members from Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia, so we are quite positive of our chances to be champion again.”
But Team Philippines has also firmed up its roster in an attempt to even things up with Team SEA, enlisting Yuka Saso and Harmie Constantino to team up with The Country Club mainstays Mikha Fortuna, Bernice Olivarez-Ilas and Sofia Chabon.
Like their counterparts, the hosts are also fielding in a number of young turks, including Annyka Cayabyab and Laurea Duque, both 13-year-olds, along with Nicole Abelar, Kyla Nocum and Tomi Arejola.
“This should guarantee three days of fierce action with Team Phl vowing to go all-out with a recharged crew against an equally talented Team SEA,” said Archen Cayabyab, who with Lubao Mayor Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab and coach Norman Sto. Domingo put together this event last year as part of their effort to help develop the country’s junior and amateur golf program.
Team SEA outplayed Team Phl in the four-ball, foursomes and singles competitions to run away with a 19 1/2-10 1/2 triumph last year. But Sto. Domingo and co-team captains Rolly Romero and Daisy Reyes believe that Team SEA is in for a big surprise.
The opening match will be played under the Scramble format in the morning before play shifts to alternate shot in the afternoon among five teams. The two sides will play best ball in the second day then back to alternate shot format in the afternoon with the deciding singles (10 matches) set on January 17. The team to score 15.5 points will win the perpetual Pradera trophy.