FILIPINO-Americans Rico Hoey and Jonathan Delos Reyes feel no pressure and are instead doubly motivated as the Philippines looks to end a long title drought in the Putra Cup.
Going practically unchallenged in Southeast Asia’s team championship from the 1970s to the 1980s, the Philippines’ conquests have come in trickles since then, with the last victory coming in 1996 in Myanmar.
“Seventeen years? That’s as long as I have been on this earth,” said Hoey, who left the country when he was five. “That’s quite a long time and it’s time that the spell ends for us.”
Long-hitting Delos Reyes, 19, and his teammates played in the Philippine Am Closed tournament at Sherwood Hills, site of the Putra Cup, and declared the team ready for battle in the event set June 24-30.
“It’s not pressure, it’s just given us added motivation,” Delos Reyes said. “We have a solid team here. For us, we just want to get it on. We’re excited and I hope the country is excited, too.”
Rupert Zaragosa, the reigning men’s and boys’ national champion, will be the spearhead of the four-man crew.
Jobim Carlos, a scholar of the MVP Sports Foundation at the University of San Francisco, is the fourth member of the host team.
Putra Cup format calls for countries to field four-man teams with the top three scores counting, and judging from the way the four played in the recent Philippine Am Closed championship, the Philippines does have a solid shot.
Zaragosa, the pint-sized 15-year-old who has now swept all national amateur titles in his career, posted an eight-shot win over Hoey by cracking par each day and, had that event been the Putra Cup, the Filipinos would have turned sub-par scores each round.
The four occupied the top places in the standings, with Hoey not scoring worse than even par; Carlos having a five-under-par third round and Delos Reyes finishing the event with two under-par efforts.
Thailand is the defending Putra Cup champion, while also seeing action are Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Myanmar and Hong Kong.