JAPAN’S Gen Nagai begins his bid for a second straight Philippine national crown when the 2014 Philippine Amateur Match Play Championship tees off Monday at the Palmer course of the Orchard in Dasmarinas, Cavite.
Nagai, a 16-year-old Japanese player who has been based in Cebu for 13 years, won the Junior Amateur stroke play championship at Sherwood two weeks ago.
Rupert Zaragosa has recovered from a wrist injury that forced him to withdraw after 24 holes of the Junior Am and the 16-year-old looks to win this championship for the second time in four years.
Zaragosa held both the men’s and boys’ national championships at the same time as a 13-year-old in 2011.
The event also drew the participation of the whole Orchard team that won the PAL Interclub last February in Bacolod. Raymund Sangil, a former pro who is now Orchard’s golf manager, King Stehmeier and TJ Benitez will have an advantage over the field because of their course familiarity.
Eddie Bagtas, a former pro who returned to the amateur ranks this year, is also entered.
But all eyes will be on Nagai, who struggled for Cebu CC in the Interclub before rediscovering his touch to rally past Raymart Tolentino in the Junior Am and win his first national title.
Gabriel Manotoc and fellow national pool member Justin Quiban are also seeing action in the PLDT Group Amateur Tour event presented by the MVP Sports Foundation and backed by Pancake House, Golf Depot and Pacsports.