RP Am golf gets going at Del Monte; Davao’s Ababa, Ikeda see action

Premium will be on accuracy as the country’s top shotmakers and rising stars begin their chase for berths in the match play phase of the Philippine Amateur Golf Championships presented by Samsung which unfolds on Wednesday, April 28 at the Del Monte Golf Club in Bukidnon.

With wide, hardened fairways and huge greens, a week of torrid scoring is expected although it will be a question of precision particularly on iron play and off the tee as those with wayward shots will have to deal with the pine trees that lined up the par-72 course.

The first two rounds will be a stroke play event with the top 32 in the men’s division advancing to match play and the top 16 in the ladies going to the knockout round. The top eight in the seniors class will also advance to the tournament proper.

The leading bets, headed by defending champion Mhark Fernando, Dabawenyo Jhonnel Ababa and Jerson Balasabas of the ICTSI-Cangolf team, is tipped to dominate the event owing to their experience and form. Fernando starts on No. 1 at 8:10 a.m. in the group of Jun Quiblat, Jovi Neri and Carlos Tinio III while Ababa is grouped with Julius Bautista, ICTSI-TCC’s Dino Villanueva and Korean Jae Woo Yang in the 7:20 a.m. flight on No. 1.

A slew of others, including those from the ICTSI-The Country Club squad composed of Peter Villaber, JR Tanpinco, Dante Becierra and Brent Sumampong, however, are out to foil their bid in the tournament organized by National Golf Association of the Phils. and sponsored by Titleist, Mizuno, Crestlink, A Round of Golf, Wow Magic Sing, Inquirer Golf Monthly and BCLN, as official clothing.

Miguel Tabuena and Jobim Carlos head the bunch of jungolfers out to upstage their more fancied rivals in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Gargol, ABW Leaves, N-Lyte, Carn-UTI, Dynamic Sports, International Armoring and Bluemansion.

Focus will also be on the ladies division with Dabawenya Chihiro Ikeda and Thailand’s Yupaporn Kawinpakorn tipped to slug it out for the crown in the absence of last year’s winner Dottie Ardina with the other ICTSI team members, led by former two-time champion Anya Tanpinco, and local bets Eva Minoza, Kristen Leonen, Pamela Soriano and Marife Jarales and Cebu’s Irina Gabasa.

Ikeda, who beat Kawinpakorn in the playoff to capture the SEA Games individual gold in Laos last year, is paired with the Thai ace in the 7:30 a.m. flight on No. 10 that includes Rosalinda Gerosano and Andrea Unson.

Iggy Clavecilla and Richie Garcia, meanwhile, head the cast in the seniors division, which also includes local bets Macky Bienes, Nonoy Dulfo, Art Gacasan Bert Langamin and Pili Sison.

Two rounds in the men’s event will be played in the first day of match play on Friday with the winners advancing to the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds on Saturday. Winners will slug it out for the championship, another 36-hole duel, on Sunday.

The seniors will have their quarterfinals on April 30 where the ladies will also dispute berths in the Last 8. The semis of the seniors and the ladies are also slated on May 1 with the finals set also set on May 2.

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