Familiarity will be the Philippines’ biggest advantage when the 17th World University Golf Championships kicks off today at the Pradera Golf and Country Club in Lubao, Pampanga.
To be represented by three male and two female student-athletes, the Filipinos hope to do well in the four-day competition hosted by the Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines, in cooperation with the FISU ( Federation Internationale du Sports Universitaire).
Leading the Filipinos’ charge are Jonas Christian Magcalayo of Mapua, Ruperto Zaragosa of Lyceum of the Philippines and Lanz William Uy of Technological University in the men’s division; and Annika Victoria Guangko and Denize Angela Pineda, both of De La Salle University-Manila, in the women’s category.
Of the five, Magcalayo had previous experience in the FaISU-organized golf competitions.
Magcalayo, the 21-year-old student of Mapua, finished with a three-round total of nine-over par 225 during the 2017 Taipei Universiade golf tournament at the Sunrise Golf and Country Club in Taoyuan, Taiwan.
“All the five (Filipino) players vowed to do their best. They want to perform well, especially since we are hosting the event,” said FESSAP honorary president David Ong in his assessment of the Filipinos’ chances.
The world-class 18-hole golf course located north of Metro Manila drew the highest praise from the FISU officials who visited the course last year.
“I am quite impressed by this beautifully-designed golf course,” said the FISU Golf Technical Director Dominic Wall of Australia.
“Expectations are high that the prominent university golfers from around the world will take part in this world competition to be showcased by the host country and FESSAP,” added Wall, who now resides in Singapore.
Long considered as the cradle of Pampanga civilization, Lubao has produced two Presidents -- Diosdado Macapagal (1961-65) and his daughter, Macapagal-Arroyo (2001-10).
Lubao Mayor Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab, who has given her all-out support to the event, is proud that Lubao has been chosen to host the WUGC.
“My success is the success of the people of Lubao,” said Pineda-Cayabyab, who also has been promoting youth activities in her town through sports and social programs.
Twenty-one countries are seeing action in both the men’s and women’s divisions.
The participating countries are Argentina, Australia, China, Czech, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Netherlands, Nepal, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Switzerland, Chinese-Taipei, and the United States.
The competition was last held in Brive-la-Gaillard, France last June 23t to 26, 2016, with nearly 80 male and female student golfers taking part.
Robin Dawson of the Republic of Ireland topped the field with a two-point edge over China’s Xuewem Luo in the men’s division,
Yu-chen Yeh of Chinese-Taipei romped away with the bronze.
The top three finishers in the women’s division all came from the Czech Republic.
Karolina Vlckova was the runaway gold medal winner with a nine-point advantage. Her compatriots Marie Lunackova and Koterina Vlasinova settled for the silver and bronze, respectively.
In the team competitions, host France ruled the men’s division with Republic of Ireland and Chinese Taipei ranking second and third, respectively.
The Czech Republic snared the top spot in the women’s division followed by Chinese Taipei and United States