THE PHILIPPINES’ best lead a banner field teeing off on Monday in the Philippine Amateur Open Golf Championship presented by the MVP Sports Foundation at the East Course of Wack Wack in Mandaluyong.
And there will also be a number of crack foreign bets seeking to keep the trophy away from a local bet’s hands with Singapore and Malaysia sending its best for the 72-hole centrepiece men’s championship.
Defending champion Gregory Foo of Singapore will not be around to shoot for a second straight win because of commitments with his country’s military, but elder brother George will be here together with the veteran Jerome Ng, Marc Ong and Thomas Tan.
The quartet form Singapore’s A-Team and the tournament could serve as a gauge on how the Philippines could fare internationally, with the Singaporeans already one of the powers in the Southeast Asian region.
Former national champion Rupert Zaragosa and Jobim Carlos, the spearhead of the PH squad, will lead the local charge in the event, the first of several lined up in the PLDT Group Philippine Amateur Tour.
A 54-hole women’s side of the event, which is also being backed by Pancake House, Titleist, PacSports, Golf Depot and Autohub, will tee off January 8.
Carlos, the bespectacled 19-year-old on a golf scholarship at the University of San Francisco, returned to the country before the holidays and is in tip-top shape as he chases his first national title.
Also playing are rising stars Andres Saldana, Basti Lorenzo, LJ Go and Gabriel Manotoc together with several Korean expats playing out of exclusive courses in the country.
The tournament will be tough with cuts to be performed after the first and third rounds for the men. Limited to a 70-player field, only the top 50 and ties will advance to the second round and after the third round, only the top 25 and ties will play in the last 18 holes. For the women, cut will be after the second round, with only the top 12 women and ties playing in the last 18 holes.(pr)