Baguio—The ICTSI Camp John Hay Ladies Championship marks its return to the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour calendar starting today (Wednesday) with Cyna Rodriguez and Princess Superal setting out in early clashes with two of Thailand’s best bets in the P1.5 million event at the rolling John Hay course here.
Rodriguez, the runaway winner when the event was last held in 2014, slugs it out with Onkanok Soisuwan in the 8:10 a.m. flight that includes local amateur bet Marianne Bustos while Superal, who ruled the inaugural staging of this championship in record fashion in 2013, tangles with Waralee Atcharerk and another amateur in Sunshine Baraquiel in the 8:40 a.m. group.
Rodriguez, a former three-time LPGT Order of Merit winner, is actually out to snap a long title spell in the circuit she used to dominate but remains wary of her chances given the depth of the field that includes a number of top Filipina players and 11 other Thai stars.
Superal, on the other hand, is seeking to nail a third LPGT victory this year after scoring back-to-back victories at Tagaytay and Riviera last March. But like Rodriguez, the former US Girls Junior champion believes it will take a lot of hard work, determination and guts plus luck to get past a talent-laden field in the event also serving as the second leg of LPGT’s new season.
The elite roster includes Atcharerk, who is itching to join the growing number of Thai winners on the local circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZGm PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf. She tied for eighth in the Champion Tour at Tagaytay Midlands last July won by Ching Huang Taiwan and is expected to lead the assault on the par-69 layout.
Meanwhile, Alex Etter, who tied for 15th at LPGT Highlands last March, served notice of her title bid in the 54-hole championship as she led her team that included amateurs Paolo Wong, Danny Wong and Ferdie Matias to the pro-am crown with a 16-under 53.
They edged Jaruporn P Na Ayutthaya, with Rachel Julian, Nora Sy and Nida Whybrow, and the other group of Sarah Ababa, with Mar Bustos, Marianne Bustos and Tim Allen, in the countback.
Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang and Numa Gulyanamitta are the other Thai players tipped to figure in early contention along with Chakansim Khamborn, Chommapat Pongthanarak, Goonlacha Paiboonpong, Kamonwan Lueamsri, Chouvarest Chourkittisopon, Omicha Konsunthea and Patraporn Kratururk.
Aside from Rodriguez and Superal, other Pinays expected to crowd the favorites are former leg winners Chihiro Ikeda and Ababa while Daniella Uy and Marvi Monsalve hope to dish out top form coming off a stint in the Taiwan LPGA leg, the first LPGT co-sanctioned tournament abroad, last week where Superal and Rodriguez also saw action.
A crack roster of amateurs is also out to humble the pros and duplicate Superal’s feat in 2013, led by The Country Club’s Sofia Chabon, Mafy Singson and Samantha Dizon along with Eagle Ace Superal, Arnie Taguines, Laia Barro, Kristine Torralba, Mariel Tee and Korean Lee Ji Hyeon.
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