The Philippine Ladies Open Golf Championship 2017 unwraps today with Yuka Saso and Pauline del Rosario facing off in an early clash of the fancied bets and Thai Atthaya Thithikul seeking a hot early start at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club’s West Course in Mandaluyong.
Saso and Del Rosario, who finished tied for second in last year’s edition of the country’s premier championship ruled by Princess Superal at Midlands, drew each other in the featured 8 a.m. flight on No. 10 with Abegail Arevalo and Lois Kaye Go completing the crack group in the 54-hole championship presented by Champion Infinity.
What makes their early duel worth watching is that the country’s top two amateurs are coming off impressive victories with Saso fresh from her runaway triumph in the Philippine Amateur Golf Championship at Riviera last Sunday on top of winning the third World Junior Girls championship and a local pro tournament.
Del Rosario, on other hand, swept her last three international events last month, including the Penang and Melaka Open in Malaysia and the Singapore Juniors.
“I don’t give too much consideration on who I would be playing with. I want to focus on my game and be the best out there, especially in this big event,” said Del Rosario, 18 and now the spearhead of Team The Country Club as Superal moved to the pro ranks late last year.
Focus will also be on Thitikul, the emerging star from Ratchaburi who is raring to launch her bid at 7:10 a.m. in the company of club bet Felicia Medalla, Katie Kim and Zoe Campos, also on No. 10.
Bernice Olivarez-Ilas, winner of a pro tournament last year, and TCC teammate Sofia Chabon will play alongside Kristine Torralba and Thai Tunrada Piddon, all seeking a strong start in the centerpiece Open division of the country’s premier championship backed by Lexus, Metro Pacific Investments, CranUTI, Texas Eagle, San Miguel Corp., Botanika, Enclave and Taishan Insurance Broker’s Inc.
Harmie Constantino, the former national champion who also won a pro tournament last year, is also out to redeem herself from a mediocre showing in last week’s Philippine Amateur as she tees off at 7:30 a.m. at the back with Erika Layson, Liyana Durisic of Malaysia and Sofia Legaspi, her teammate with Saso in the winning Phl squad in the World Junior Girls in Canada.
Aussie Prescila Keogh is also tipped to contend for the crown along with 7:10 a.m. flightmates Mei Fang Huang and Lingli He of Taiwan and local bet Marife Jarales, while Napabhach Boon-in, the other Thai ace, is grouped with Mikha Fortuna, Aloysa Atienza and Malaysian Qistina Binti Azhar in the 7:20 a.m. group on No. 10.
The local young guns, led by Annyka Cayabyab and Mikhaela Arroyo, are also expected to crowd the favorites in the 54-hole event organized and conducted by the Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines and supported by Inquirer, Cherrylume, Alveo, Manila Golf, G&W Clubshares, Alabang Ladies Golf Chapter, Canlubang Golf Club, Forest Hills Golf Club, Sta. Elena Golf Club, Tagaytay Higlands, Gatorade, Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, Vermogen, Atty. Gilberto Duavit and Water World Trading Inc.