Filipino golfers are among the best in the world. And they want to keep it that way.
In the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam, the Philippine men’s and women’s teams begin their respective bids as golf competitions unwrap today (Friday) at the Heron Lake Golf Course in Vinh Phuc, Vietnam.
“We believe all are motivated intrinsically by being their best versions. This in itself is the challenge we have given them —to be better every day, in all aspects both on and off the course,” said Miko Alejandro, coach of the national women’s squad made up of Lois Kaye Go, Mafy Singson and young sensation Rianne Malixi.
They are hard-pressed to retain the crown won by now-pro Bianca Pagdanganan (individual), Go and Abby Arevalo (team) in the last SEAG wars at Luisita in 2019 but are upbeat of their chances to fulfill the promise with a well laid-out battle plan.
“I think it’s not necessarily pressure but more inspiration to the players. We use these stories to remind us we are capable. We understand that this is a brand new opportunity to win gold medals for the country,” Alejandro added.
For one, Malixi is oozing with confidence, coming off a string of victories, including a couple of feats in the local pro circuit and one in the American Junior Golf Association.
The 15-year-old spearhead of Team ICTSI is thrilled more than anxious playing in what she considers as her biggest tournament thus far, all geared up to slug it out with the likes of Thais Narkitta Wongthaveelap, a three-time Thai LPGA Tour winner, Pimkwan Chukaew, a King Rama VII Cup titlist, and fellow 15-year-old Ella Galitsky for the coveted medal.
As hosts, Vietnam is out to spoil the highly anticipated PH-Thai gold medal duel, along with Malaysia and Singapore, but the perennial regional rivals are expected to take center stage just the same with their depth and talent in both sides of the 54-hole tournament.
“It will be exciting. I’ll play my best for the team,” said Malixi. “This is the biggest for me so far, playing not for myself but for our country. By playing my best, it’s like I’m paying a tribute to our flag. I’m looking forward to hearing our national anthem at the end of the tournament.”
“I’m ready for the tournament. I hope everyone will pray for the success not only for our team but for the entire delegation,” she added.
Alejandro is also pinning his hopes on his crack men’s team composed of Jet Hernandez, Jed Dy, Kristoffer Arevalo and Gab Manotoc, who are all primed-up for a face-off with the fancied Thai squad led by the celebrated Ratchanon Chantananuwat, who at 15 became the youngest winner on the Asian Tour when he topped the inaugural Asian Mixed Cup in Siam last month.
“I think this event is a little different from the typical tournaments we are used to because of the team aspect. But at the same time, it is also an added motivation to be playing for each other and the country. It’s one of the greatest honors to be representing the country and this drives us,” said Alejandro.
“Everyone is in high spirits and individual games are trending in the right direction. We’ve been working hard in our preparation but making sure we also don’t forget to enjoy every moment. All players can’t wait to tee it up Friday,” he added.
And an enthusiastic nation anticipating a big bash on Sunday.