CYNA Rodriguez sets out as the top favorite, but a slew of others goes all out to foil her bid at the start of the ICTSI Orchard Golf Ladies Classic at Orchard’s Player Course in Dasmarina, Cavite.
Rodriguez took the inaugural Order of Merit crown in the country’s first-ever ladies pro tour, winning two of the five legs while barely nipping Jayvie Agojo for the coveted plum.
She hopes to start the season on a winning note but faces a lot of challenges, both from her fellow local campaigners and Amolkan Phalajivin of Thailand and Korean Seo Yon Kwon
The 54-hole championship serves as the kickoff leg of an eight-stage circuit marking the second season of the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, which the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. put up last year to provide the country’s top and rising golfing ladies a circuit of their own vis-à-vis the men’s tour.
Phalajivin, who used to campaign on the Asian Ladies Pro Tour, served notice of her bid to dominate by topping the recent Qualifying School at Eagle Ridge and her presence should give Rodriguez and the rest of the local aces something to watch out for.
At stake in the P500,000 event is the top purse of P100,000 and the momentum and confidence they wound need as the circuit, organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and sponsored by Nike Golf, Pacsports , Custom Clubmakers and Sharp, heads to Baguio for the second leg on June 25-27.
Riviera will stage the next leg on July 1-3 for the ICTSI Riviera Ladies Invitational followed by the ICTSI Mt. Malarayat Ladies Classic on Aug. 12-14, and the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Ladies Invitational on Sept. 9-11.
Completing the circuit is the ICTSI Calatagan Ladies Classic on Sept. 24-26, the ICTSI Valley Golf Ladies Challenge on Oct. 14-16, and the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Ladies Championship on Nov. 5-7.
Agojo, a former Philippine Ladies Open champion who nearly snatched the OOM crown despite going winless in all five legs last year, also hopes to come out strong along with former national mainstays Chihiro Ikeda, Sarah Ababa, Lovelynn Guioguio and Anya Tanpinco.
Ikeda, for one, is expected to figure prominently in the title race with the former SEA Games gold medalist raring to showcase her shotmaking skills honed up by stints in Japan.
Others vying for the crown are Reb Bareng, Lina De Guzman, Apple Fudolin, Lucy Landicho, Barsy Leonen, Eva Minoza, Majorie Pulumbarit, Jan Punzalan and former Philippine Ladies Open champion Mary Grace Estuesta.