Junia Gabasa hopes to ride the momentum of her recent victory in W Express RVF Cup as she gears up against a stellar international cast in the Champion Philippine Ladies Amateur Open which gets going Tuesday (Feb. 19) at the Manila Golf and Country Club.
The 17-year-old Cebuana, a former MVPSF regional champ, and veteran of many international events, bucked the odds to humble a tough field in Canlubang last Friday, toughening up at the finish to hold off young Rianne Malixi by one and add the crown to her growing list of victories.
She shoots for another—and the biggest—in the Phl Ladies Open, which drew one of the strongest casts ever, including reigning Asian Games gold medalist and defending champion Yuka Saso, a troika of young, talented Thai shotmakers and a mix of foreign players ready to take on the best at the well-kept layout making its return as host of the country’s premier championship.
Still, Gabasa will be coming into the 57th staging of the annual championship presented by Champion and sponsored by Hana Shampoo, EVA Air, San Miguel Corp. and Diamond Motor Corp., brimming with confidence and a form tipped to reach its peak this week.
“My victory gives me excitement and a positive vibe to compete in the Phl Ladies Open,” said Gabasa. “I would say that anything can happen next week but I have to play my best and enjoy my game—taking it one day at a time and focusing on every shot.”
Other locals vying in the 54-hole event, backed by Cherrylume, Inquirer, Elm’s Kapihan Group, Atty. Gilberto Duavit, G&W Club Shares, Inc., Pascual Laboratories, Metro Pacific Corp., Ayala Land Premiere, Venice Godio, Taishan Insurance Brokers Phils. and the National Golf Association of the Philippines, are Nicole Abelar, Sunshine Baraquiel, Laia Barro, Sophia Blanco, Annyka Cayabyab, Laurea Duque, Sophia Legaspi, Pamela Mariano, Kayla Nocum, Rafaela Singson, Eagle Ace Superal and Malixi.
Thirty percent of the lowest handicaps from among the 94-player cast are automatically seeded into the Open Championship with 30 percent of the lowest scores and ties after the first round also qualifying in the centerpiece division. The rest will be classified into Classes A and B.
Meanwhile, 31 Taiwanese, six Singaporeans, four Koreans, three Australians, two Japanese and six Americans are also competing in the event, all going all out to end the hosts’ reign in the event after Princess Superal, Bianca Pagdanganan and Saso won at Tagaytay Midlands, Wack Wack and Orchard, respectively.
Other backers of the event are the ladies chapters of Alabang, Forest Hills, Tagaytay Highlands, Canlubang and Manila Golf Club with Vermogen, Sports + Action and Sports U channels of ABS-CBN.
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