Regional powerhouse Thailand sets out to relive its glory years in the Champion Philippine Ladies Amateur Open, pinning its hopes on a troika of young guns eager to showcase its wares when the country’s premier championship is held Feb. 19-21 at the Manila Golf and Country Club.
The Thais racked up three straight PLO titles from 2013, courtesy of Supamas Sangchan (twice) and Pimnipa Panthong but were shut out from the title race the last three editions of the annual event with the local aces re-asserting their might while cashing in on the proverbial homecourt edge to prevail in Tagaytay (Princess Superal), Wack Wack (Bianca Pagdanganan) and Orchard (Yuka Saso).
But Yosita Khawnuna and Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, both 16-year-olds, and Chanettee Wannasaen, who will turn 15 in April, are all geared up to put Thailand back in the spotlight in the 57th staging of the annual event which incidentally is making its return to its home at the well-kept layout inside the posh Forbes Park.
Meanwhile, registration is ongoing with entry fee pegged at P10,000 for local players and $300 for foreign participants. For reservations and details, email email@example.com (WGAP chairperson) or firstname.lastname@example.org (WGAP president Anna Haurie).
Koreans Park Eun Suk and Lim Mi Jin are also in the fold, both aiming to duplicate compatriot Lee Jeong Hwa’s title feat in 2012 while Japanese Airi Mitsuhashi a regular campaigner on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, likewise hopes to contend in the 54-hole championship organized and conducted by the Women’s Golf Association of the Philippines.
Thirty one Taiwanese, six Singaporeans, one from Hong Kong, three Australians and six Americans are also competing in the event, all going flat out to end the hosts’ reign in the event presented by Champion and sponsored by Hana Shampoo, EVA Air, San Miguel Corp., Diamond Motor Corp., 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.
Still, focus will be on the local top guns with Asian Games gold medalist and world No. 33 Saso bannering the hosts’ title drive in the tournament backed by 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.
Saso, who powered the Philippines to the team and individual gold in last year’s Asiad in Jakarta, also won a pro tournament last year, easily making her the player to beat in the tournament which also lured top Filipinas Eagle Ace Superal, Mafy Singson, Samantha Dizon, Arnie Taguines, Laia Barro, Angela Legaspi, Monica Mandario, Junia Gabasa, Kyla Nocum and Nicole Abelar.