FORMER Southeast Asian Games champion Chihiro Ikeda is among the favorites although she will be playing in a tournament at Camp John Hay in Baguio City for the first time when the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour championship holds its fifth leg starting Tuesday.
“This is my first time to play John Hay and I hope to contend since I’ve been playing well lately,” said Ikeda, the many-time member of the national team who placed second to former teammate Dottie Ardina at ICTSI LPGT Canlubang and wound up fourth in the last leg at Wack Wack.
This time, she hopes to finish on top of the P500,000 tournament serving as the final leg of the five-stage circuit kicking off the inaugural staging of the first-ever ladies pro tour sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. The 54-hole event offers a top prize of P100,000.
Ikeda hopes to fully familiarize herself with the short but tricky par-69 layout in Monday’s pro-am tournament.
“It’s nobody’s home course, so it’s a matter of cashing in on the local knowledge. It’s short but very tricky,” said Ikeda.
A compact field is vying in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Touraments, Inc. and backed Nike Golf, Pacsports, Gatorade, Sharp and Custom Clubmakers, with Cyna Rodriguez seeking a third straight championship after dominating the Eagle Ridge and Wack Wack legs.
Ardina swept the first two legs at The Country Club and Canlubang but the former Junior World champion skipped the next two to vie in the LPGA Qualifying School where she made the grade for the Final Stage in December.
Jayvie Agojo is also raring to nail the elusive win after turning in two runner-up finishes at The Country Club and Eagle Ridge, with Lovelynn Guioguio, Sarah Ababa, Apple Fudolin, Lucy Landicho, Eva Minoza and Anya Tanpinco also tipped to crowd the fancied bets.
The pro-am will feature Team ICTSI’s Princess Superal, Pauline Del Rosario, Mikaela Fortuna and Abby Arevalo and reigning national match play champion Felicia Medalla, Sam Martirez, Sam Green, Sam Bruce, Nikki Bruce, Kim So Yoon, Oh Kyung Ja and Bernice Olivarez-Ilas.