BANNERED by Saksansin Poon, who is 65th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, Thailand again looms as the team to beat in the Putra Cup teeing off on Thursday at Sherwood Hills in Trece Martirez, Cavite.
The Philippines last won the event in 1996 in Myanmar and the NGAP is hoping the team featuring reigning national champion Rupert Zaragosa and several US-based Filipinos would finally end the title drought for the country.
Singapore, champion in 2011 and runner-up to the Thais last year in Indonesia, is another stumbling block for the Filipinos with the seasoned Jerome Ng leading the charge in the eight-nation event. Gavin Green, meahwhile, will lead the Malaysian squad.
“We’re excited, it’s been a long wait for us,” Rico Hoey, the 17-year-old University of Southern California recruit said of his first stint wearing the Philippine colors. “We hope our country is excited as well.”
Hoey was called for national duty together with Jonathan Delos Reyes by the NGAP, a process that took its president Tommy Manotoc two years to complete.
“There’s no pressure on our part, only added motivation,” Delos Reyes said.
Jobim Carlos, an MVP Sports Foundation scholar at the University of San Francisco, is the fourth member of the squad in the 72-hole championship is being backed by the PLDT Amateur Golf Tour, PSC, POC, Philippine Golf Foundation, DOT, Asia Brewery, Turf Company, Sligo, Ping, Intramachineries Doosan, Suntrust, Crimson Hotel and Golf Depot.
In the Santi Cup for women, the Philippines is pinning its hopes on Regan De Guzman and Fil-Americans Katrina Briones and Simone Hoey.
Also being held is the Lion City Cup for 17-and-under players.