AFTER nearly two decades, two-time LPGA champion Jennifer Rosales sees action before local fans when she goes up against a crack international field in the $75,000 ICTSI Ladies Open which gets going on Wednesday at Southlinks Golf Club in Las Pinas.
Rosales, on an early break from the LPGA Tour, signed up for the 54-hole tournament late Sunday, hopeful her presence would further boost the fledgling local ladies pro golf, which took off a couple of years ago with the staging of the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.
“I’m very happy with the growth of women’s golf in the country and we have Mr. Ricky Razon to thank for that – for his all-out support to pro and amateur lady golfers,” said Rosales during a break in practice at Southlinks on Monday, referring to the ICTSI chairman and CEO.
That makes the five-time Philippine Ladies Open winner the heavy favorite for the crown and the top US$15,000 purse in the event presented by Champion Infinity, a slew of players will be out to foil her bid.
They include Dottie Ardina and Mia Piccio, who are also on a break from the Symetra Tour in the US, along with back-to-back LPGT Order of Merit winner Cyna Rodriguez, Jayvie Agojo, Chihiro Ikeda and ace amateur Princess Superal.
"In my small way I want to help boost women's pro golf and at the same time thank him (Mr. Razon) for supporting me by playing in this first ICTSI Ladies Open," said Rosales.
Rosales, 36, last played on local soil in 1996 during the Espirito Santo Trophy of the World Amateur Golf Championships at Sta. Elena. Two years later, she hooked it up with the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and, as a freshman, won the 1988 NCAA Championship.
She gained exempt status for the LPGA Tour in 2000 by finishing tied for seventh in the LPGA qualifying in late 1999 and became the first Filipina to win on the LPGA Tour when she ruled the Chic-fil-A Championship in 2004. She pocketed her second LPGA crown the following year at the SBS Open in Hawaii.
She also teamed up with Fil-Am Dorothy Delasin to finish second in the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 2005 before the duo clinched the crown three years later.
Injuries, however, slowed down and hampered Rosales’ bid for a third LPGA crown although she has kept her full status on the LPGA Tour.
Meanwhile, the field tests the demanding par-72 layout one last time in Tuesday’s pro-am tournament.