RUPERT Zaragosa opens his quest for a fourth national crown against a bumper crop of local and international bets when the 2014 Philippine Junior Amateur Championship presented by the MVP Sports Foundation tees off on Tuesday at Sherwood Hills in Cavite.
The 16-year-old, who held both the boys’ and the men’s championships at the same time when he was 13, is the odds-on favorite to rule the 72-hole PLDT Group Amateur Tour event.
The pint-sized wonder out of Canlubang in Laguna will be taking fine form into the event, having topped qualifying for the Philippine representatives to the Callaway Junior World Championship later this year.
Out to spoil Zaragosa’s bid is Kristopher Arevalo, last year’s 13-14 age-group champion in San Diego who will be seeking his first national championship.
Gio Gandiongco will not be able to defend his championship as he is currently on a golfing scholarship in the United States.
Zaragosa knows the wind-raked, ravine-filled layout like the back of his hands, having spent most of the last two years playing at the Trece Martirez course for the Philippine squad.
Sherwood Hills is the official golf course of the National Golf Association of the Philippines and Zaragosa, as well as other players in the national pool, have course familiarity going their way.
South Korean expat Kim Tae-woo, a 16-year-old with a handicap of three and playing out of Royal Northwoods in Bulacan, heads the foreign challenge in the boy’s division of the event also backed by Pancake House, Golf Depot and Pacsports.