TEAM Philippines looks to end a long title drought in Southeast Asia’s official team golf championship as the Putra Cup tees off on Thursday at Sherwood Hills in Trece Martirez, Cavite.
It has been 17 years since Filipinos won the tournament, but the National Golf Association of the Philippines is confident the country can finally end the barren spell with a team of young talented parbusters.
National amateur champion Rupert Zaragosa, the youngest in the team at 15 years old, will lead the Filipinos against the very best in the Southeast Asian region including Jerome Ng of Singapore, Saksansin Poom of Thailand and the celebrated Gavin Green of Malaysia.
Also seeing action for the Philippines are US-based Rico Hoey, Jonathan de los Reyes and Jobim Carlos.
Former Junior World champion Carito Villaroman, a member of the victorious 1987 Philippine Team, is the non-playing skipper for the Filipinos and the only man who can talk to the players while on the course.
“We have a very promising set of players, a very promising team overall,” Villaroman said. “My instructions would be for them (Filipinos) to play it a hole at a time and keep themselves involved in the process of hitting the best shot that they can hit.
“It would also be important for them to not overthink, and if we do that, I think we will be in good shape.”
The tournament officially opened Wednesday at the Sherwood grounds with NGAP president Tommy Manotoc welcoming all delegates. The players ended the day with welcome cocktails at the Crimson Hotel.
Villaroman bared that Zaragosa will come out last for the Filipinos, putting stability on the anchor position considering how well the pint-sized wonder from Canlubang can play the ravine-filled layout.
In the Philippine Amateurs that he won two weeks ago, Zaragosa broke par in all four rounds and tallied 11-under 267, eight shots clear of Hoey.
Poom is ranked 65th in the world and will lead Thailand’s bid for a repeat.