WHILE Jennifer Rosales’ first stint in a local tournament gives the local ladies’ tour a big boost, the two-time LPGA Tour winner said the huge international field in the ICTSI Ladies Open raises the bar for Filipina shotmakers.
Rosales skipped Tuesday’s pro-am but is still considered by organizers are the player to beat in the event beginning on Wednesday at Southlinks Golf Club in Las Pinas.
“I’m ready and I hope to have a good start although the course looks daunting and the field appears to be talent-laden. So it’s going to be tough out there,” said Rosales.
The 54-hole $75,000 event is the kickoff leg of this year’s ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour and also serves as the fourth stage of the 20-leg Taiwan LPGA circuit, drawing players from Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, Malaysia, Japan and the US.
“It’s good that we have plenty of foreign players. That should motivate the Filipina players to play more intense and they should be on their toes always,” added Rosales.
In her first local tournament in nearly two decades, Rosales has been grouped with Thailand’s Amolkan Phalajivin and Taiwan’s Chen Szu-Han.
Among the top players to watch is Tiffany Tavee, who lost in a playoff to Thai Nontaya Srisawang in Taiwan LPGA’s third leg, the Grand Royal Open, last month. The American will start with Taiwan’s Chuang Hsin-yun and Filipina amateur Mikaela Fortuna.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Liang Yi-ling served notice of her title bid as she powered her team composed of Butch Santos, Jops Melrosa and Tess Yap to pro-am victory with a 14-under 58. Phalajivin, who won the LPGT Splendido crown last year, teamed up with Louie Bustamante, Zardi Abellera and Roberto Reyes as they placed second with a 59 while Sarah Ababa, along with teammates Nicer Landas, Bong Arguelles and Ginelyn Hepoit, finished third with a 61.
Lee Jeong-hwa also guns for her second local crown after ruling the Philippine Ladies Open in 2012 with the Korean ace grouped with Chen I-wen of Taiwan and amateur Yuka Saso.
Focus will also be on Dottie Ardina, raring to make it four-of-four on the LPGT after dominating the Country Club and Canlubang in the circuit’s inaugurals in 2013 and the Valley stage last year. The Symetra Tour campaigner is set to start with Thai Thanuttra Boonraksasast and Taiwan’s Lio Ching-ju.
Mia Piccio, who also campaigns on the Symetra Tour, has been grouped with Thai Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul and Yeh Hsin-ning of Taiwan, while back-to-back LPGT Order of Merit champion Cyna Rodriguez plays with Taiwan’s Huang Pei-weh and Hathaikarn Wongwaikijphaisal of Thailand.
Reigning US Girls Junior champion Princess Superal is also fancied to crowd the pros for top honors in the event co-organized by the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and Taiwan LPGA with the 18-year-old shotmaker, who racked up 12 victories here and abroad last year, grouped with Thai Sarauttaya Ngam-usawan and Taiwan’s Lee Tai-Ling.
Former Philippine Ladies Open winner Jayvie Agojo is also seeing action in the tournament backed by Nike, Sharp and Custom Clubmakers along with former SEA Games gold medalist Chihiro Ikeda, Malaysians Ainil Bakar and Aretha Pan, Great Britain’s Sarah Henderson, Singapore’s Christabel Goh, Grace Lee of Korea, and Japan’s Kumi Uchiyama and Mayumi Chinzei the country’s first-ever ladies pro tour sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.