The 2018 Philippine Amateur Open Championship reels off on Thursday at the Riviera Golf Club with fierce battle seen in both the men’s and women’s sides after lopsided results in both categories last year.
With a huge field of 116, including the rising and leading amateurs from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Canada and the US, the chase for the country’s premier amateur crowns could go down to the last putt on Sunday at Riviera’s Couples layout.
Tom Kim looms as the player to beat in the men’s division owing to his local knowledge of the par-72 layout with the young Korean out to make up for his seven-stroke defeat to absentee Thai Sadom Kaewkanjana last year.
But a slew of local aces also primed themselves up during the short holiday break with Aniceta Mandanas and Carl Corpus, who placed fourth and fifth, respectively, last year leading the local challenge in the 72-hole championship sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation and held as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour.
Rupert Zaragosa, Judson Eustaquio, Kristoffer Arevalo, Luis Castro, Aidric Chan, Weiwei Gao, Gab Manotoc, Paolo Wong and Don Petil also in the hunt, ready to do battle against a crack international field headed by Kim Dong Hyun and Lim Su Min of Korea, Malaysians Muhammad Afif Mohd Fathi and Rhaasrikanesh A/L Kanavathi, and Brandon Han, Donovan Lee, Sean Lee and Jeryl Tan of Singapore.
The same tight finish is also expected in women’s play with Kim Hee Ji likewise raring to atone for her nine-shot defeat to absentee Yuka Saso last year. But the Korean faces an uphill battle against a bunch of talented local rivals, led by local aces Harmie Constantino, winner here in 2016, Nicole Abelar, Annika Cedo, Kristine Torralba, Kayla Nocum, Junia Gabasa, last year’s Porter Cup winner Lois Go and recent Malaysian Junior Open champion Mikha Fortuna.
Korean Hwang Min Jeong, who has won a tournament on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, a pro circuit, is also tipped to contend for the crown in the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.