A bit rusty but fully energized, the ladies of the Philippine Golf Tour set out for what is seen to be a wide open battle for top honors in the ICTSI Aoki Classic at Eagle Ridge, which gets under way Wednesday in Gen. Trias, Cavite.
Though Harmie Constantino enjoys some kind of a psychological edge, having marked her pro debut with a victory over Princess Superal no less at the Isao Aoki-designed layout last March, the title chase is tipped to go down-to-the-wire in the third restart of the country’s premier ladies circuit with the multi-titled Superal out to resume her own campaign in Japan.
Hunger, for one, will be more than enough motivation for the rest of the field with the likes of Chanelle Avaricio, Daniella Uy, Sunshine Baraquiel, Lovelyn Guioguio, Apple Fudolin and Marvi Monsalve all itching to nail the elusive win in the event marking the LPGT resumption following its second postponement due to the spike of coronavirus cases in NCR Plus last July.
But it will also be a question of shotmaking and putting with former leg winners Chihiro Ikeda and Sarah Ababa also hopeful to get into the podium again on Friday while Shery Villasencio, Pamela Mariano, Eva Miñoza, Florence Bisera and Majorie Pulumbarit spice up the cast in the P750,000 event put up by ICTSI.
Eagle Ace Superal, Mafy Singson and Korean Jane Jeong provide an interesting sidelight to the 54-hole event as they vie for low amateur honors although focus will be on Laurea Duque and Burberry Zhang, who are out to shoot for a follow-up to their feats at Eagle Ridge-Aoki and Sherwood Hills, respectively.
As in the past successful “bubble” tournaments, the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. is imposing strict safety measures to guarantee the health and safety of all those involved as per the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) guidelines and protocols.
Constantino gets an early test for her back-to-back title bid at Aoki as she drew LPGA of Taiwan Tour veteran Uy and Baraquiel at 8:06 a.m. behind the group of Avaricio, Ikeda and Zhang with Monsalve clashing with Villasensio and Mariano at 8:18 a.m.
Avaricio is also due for a big finish after being foiled twice by absentee Superal at Sherwood Hills and Eagle Ridge-Norman last July, while the long break is expected to have helped Ikeda heal a hand injury that has hampered her past performances.
Meanwhile, the Highlands course in Tagaytay will host the next LPGT stop – the ICTSI Tagaytay Highlands Challenge – on Nov. 9-11 with Gretchen Villacencio joining the fray after skipping the Eagle Ridge sortie for medical reasons.
Meantime, two more tournaments are being eyed for the touring ladies at the Riviera Golf and Country Club in SIlang, Cavite on Nov. 23-26 and Nov. 30-Dec. 3.