THE new-look Southeast Asian squad is confident it can retain the title as it battles the Filipinas in the Pradera Verde Ladies Challenge set Jan. 15 to 17 at the Pradera Verde Golf and Country Club in Lubao, Pampanga.
Co-team captains Phunampa Pornperapan and Jantsonn Kan have come up with a young formidable squad for the championship pitting some of the Philippines’ leading jungolfers and amateurs against the top players from neighboring SEA countries in a Ryder Cup-style event.
“We’re optimistic of our chances. Though we only have Onkanok (Soisuwan) as holdover from the Thai group plus two youngsters aged 12 and 13, the team is keen for competition,” said Pornperapan, who has tapped Kultida Pramphun, Phannarai Meesomus, Pimkwan Chookaew and Pinkaew Trachentong to backstop Team SEA.
For Kan, the Malaysian skipper is also bringing in three new players but still has last year’s mainstay Winnie Ng, who is expected to provide the leadership and deliver again along with Ashley Lau, Audrey Tan and Zuliakah Nurzian and Indonesian Michela Tjan, also a member of last year’s winning squad.
“I think Winnie will definitely do better than last year. Ashley is a more mature player who has been playing in Australia the last three years,” said Kan. “Overall, this is a team event with an equally strong members from Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia,S so we are quite positive of our chances to be champion again.”
Team Philippines has also firmed up its roster in an attempt to even things up with Team SEA, enlisting Yuka Saso and Harmie Constantino to team with The Country Club mainstays Mikha Fortuna, Bernice Olivarez-Ilas and Sofia Chabon.
The hosts are also fielding in a number of young players, including Annyka Cayabyab and Laurea Duque, both 13, along with Nicole Abelar, Kyla Nocum and Tomi Arejola.
“This should guarantee three days of fierce action with Team Philippines vowing to go all-out with a recharged crew against an equally talented Team SEA,” said Archen Cayabyab, who with Lubao Mayor Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab and coach Norman Sto. Domingo put together this event last year as part of their effort to help develop the country’s junior and amateur golf program.
Team SEA won by nine points last year but Sto. Domingo and co-team captains Rolly Romero and Daisy Reyes believe that Team SEA is in for a big surprise.
The first day morning session features the scramble format before play shifts to alternate shot in the afternoon. The two sides will play best ball in the morning of the second day then back to alternate shot format in the afternoon with 10 singles set on Jan. 17.