Cyna, Jayvie seek No. 2 as LPGT John Hay unwraps

Jayvie Agojo.(pr photo)
Jayvie Agojo.(pr photo)
BAGUIO – Cyna Rodriguez and Jayvie Agojo hope to sizzle early in this cool mountaintop course and fuel their respective drive for win No. 2 on the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour when the P500,000 Camp John Hay Invitational is fired off starting  Tuesday, July 1 at John Hay Golf Club here.
After the first two legs at the longer but relatively flat Orchard and Riviera courses, the compact field tackle the short but up-and-down par-69 layout with unpredictable greens and which puts premium on accuracy with some holes requiring conservative play. Amateur Princess Superal flashed flawless form to rule this event last year, finishing with a bogey-free 54-hole 17-under 190 total and beating Chihiro Ikeda by 8.
But the Team ICTSI standout, also the reigning SEA Games individual champion, is in the US campaigning in various tournaments and will not be able to defend her crown, leaving Rodriguez and Agojo as the top picks for the top P100,000 purse in the event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Rodriguez nipped Agojo in their battle for fourth place here last year and the former went on to edge the latter in their fight for the Order of Merit crown, thus making this event a grudge match.
“I plan to get the feel first of the supposed hard greens of John Hay and see how I can attack the pins in the second round,” said Rodriguez, who also won the kickoff leg of this year’s circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. at Orchard but skipped the next stage at Riviera last week to compete in a tournament in Taiwan where she finished joint 16th.
Agojo also said it will all boil down to putting with the former Philippine Ladies Open champion finding the surface not to her liking during yesterday’s pro-am tournament backed by Nike, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.
“Putting can be tricky. The speed of the greens vary that one has to read it carefully. Dapat maingat,” said Agojo.
Korean Kwok Seo Yon also primed herself up for the title run as she ruled the pro-am event with amateur partners Raul Tengco, Manny Solis and Chris Bautista on a 22-under 47 total while Amolkan Phalajivin of Thailand is also tipped to contend for the crown in the third leg of the eighth-stage circuit.
But Kwok, who placed fourth at Riviera and the Thai veteran of the Asian Ladies Golf Tour will have their hands full early as they drew Rodriguez in the 8:1 a.m. flight with Agojo to start at 7:52 a.m. in the company of Sarah Ababa and Korean amateur Jung Jung Soon.
“Ill try my best but the course is very tiring,” said Kwok.

Others in the fold are Lovelynn Guioguio, Heidi Chua, Apple Fudolin, Lina de Guzman, Anya Tanpinco, Majorie Pulumbarit, Lucy Landicho, Eva Minoza, Jan Punzalan, Sylvia Torres and amateurs Nikki Bruce, Marianne Bustos and Park Hyo Jin of Korea.(pr)

Swiss, Aussie rule; Century Tuna 5150 triathlon

`Mermaids’ join the more than a thousand participants in the swim category of the Century Tuna 5150 Triathlon in Subic,  Sunday.(pr photo)
`Mermaids’ join the more than a thousand participants in the swim category of the Century Tuna 5150 Triathlon in Subic, Sunday.(pr photo)

 

 

Swiss Caroline Steffen (left) and Casey Munro of Australia raise the finish line banner as they dominate their respective divisions in the Century Tuna 5150 Triathlon in Subic, Sunday.(pr photo)
Swiss Caroline Steffen (left) and Casey Munro of Australia raise the finish line banner as they dominate their respective divisions in the Century Tuna 5150 Triathlon in Subic, Sunday.(pr photo)

SUBIC – Debuting Caroline Steffen of Switzerland and Casey Munro of Australia wasted little time making their marks in the Century Tuna 5150 Triathlon, dominating the premiere pro division races right on their first tries here, Sunday.
A champion in Ironman 70.3 competitions but vying in the 5150 Olympic distance triathlon race for the very first time, Steffen blitzed the opposition and wrested the women’s pro diadem from three-peat-seeking Australian Belinda Granger with so much to spare.
Steffen, nicknamed “Xena” after the TV heroine, finished the 1.5k swim, 40k bike and 10k run race inside the SBMA in 2:15:32, blowing past Granger who checked in much later at 2:25:05.
Local ace Monica Torres hoisted the Philippine flag as she came in third with her 2:28:20 effort.
Steffen’s training buddy Munro made an equally impressive romp in the men’s pro category of the Century Tuna-sponsored event that drew 1,285 participants.
A former pro cyclist, Munro banked on his riding skills to lay the foundation for a victorious campaign in 2:07:22, beating compatriot Michael Murphy (2:08:26) and Simon Agoston (2:09:13) for the title.
Jonard Saim ruled the men’s Filipino elite category, clocking 2:13:45 against Banjo Norte’s 2:14:46 and John Chicano’s 2:15:20.
Ma. Claire Adorna topped the distaff side, submitting 2:32:45 against Jenny Rose Guerrero’s 2:42:28 and Lea Coline Langit’s 2:46:26.
Steffen made the female pro race a no contest, beating holder Granger by nearly 10 minutes.
“I didn’t expect it like that. That’s a pretty big margin for an Olympic distance race but of course, I’m more than happy I did it. I had a good day and I just went for it,” said Steffen, who netted $2,000 for the triumph.
Munro kept the Australians’ stranglehold on the men’s pro division, which was won by Luke McKenzie last year and David Dellow in the inaugural division in 2012.
“I had a perfect race today,” said Munro.” I played it tactically and used my strength – biking – to beat the others.”
The event was backed by Gatorade, Alaska, Aqua Sphere, Timex, Smart Live More, PLDT, Dept. of Tourism, Planet Sports, P&G, Prudential Guarantee, Intercare, The Philippine STAR, DeVant, LBC, Oakley, Subic Bay and GU Roctane.(pr)

Century Tuna 5150 draws huge field  

The Century Tuna 5150 Triathlon fires off on Sunday, June 29 with a crack international field numbering to 1,200, including world class triathletes, bracing for a fierce battle for top honors in Subic Bay.
Headlining the aspirants in the men’s pro category are topnotch Australians Casey Munro, fifth-placer in the Ironman 70.3 Busselton and Geelong competitions; Eric Watson, ninth-placer in Challenge Taiwan and Challenge Philippines; Justin Granger, runner-up in Challenge Taiwan and fifth-placer in last year’s Century Tuna 5150; and Michael Murphy, runner-up in the2014 Challenge Philippines and third-placer in 2013 Century Tuna 5150.
Last year’s winner Luke McKenzie begged off from defending his crown in the event sponsored by Century Tuna, making it a wide-open battle with Slovakian Michael Bucek, the champion of the Bizent Bali International Olympic Distance Triathlon and 2013 70.3 Challenge Taiwan, and Hungarian Simon Agoston, fourth-placer of the 2014 Golden Triangle International Triathlon and winner of the 2013 Hua-hin and Bangkok Triathlon meets, also joining the title hunt.
Back-to-back defending champion Belinda Granger of Australia, meanwhile, is seeking to complete a three-peat in the distaff side of the event considered as biggest global Olympic distance triathlon series. The Australian ace has enjoyed a streak over the last three years, having ruled this year’s Challenge Taiwan and the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii in 2013, in addition to her back-to-back wins in the Century Tuna 5150.
Swiss Caroline Steffen, fondly known in the triathlon world as “Xena,” is also in the fold, making the chase for the crown a lot more interesting and competitive. A member of the Alaska Tri-Aspire Team, Steffen is coming off her conquest of the Ironman Australia Asia-Pacific tourney in Melbourne last March. She has been successful in the country as showcased by her victories in the Cobra Ironman in 2012 and 2013.
Equally determined to crowd the fancied bets is Australian pro Jodie Scott, who placed seventh in the 2014 Challenge Taiwan.
Local star Monica Torres, the elite champion of the last two editions of the Century Tuna 5150, carries the fight for the Philippines. She dominated the Asian elite division of the 2014 Challenge Philippines with the veteran campaigner hoping to sustain her momentum going to this competition.
The battle for the male pro crown is also expected to be an open race after l
A total of $10,000 will be at stake in the pro division and P120,000 will be up for grabs in the Filipino elite category of the event backed by Gatorade, Alaska, Aqua Sphere, Timex, Smart Live More, PLDT, Dept. of Tourism, Planet Sports, P&G, Prudential Guarantee, Intercare, The Philippine STAR, DeVant, LBC, Oakley, Subic Bay and GU Roctane. (pr)

Agojo clinches 3-shot win as Ikeda fumbles

SILANG, Cavite – Jayvie Agojo pounced on Chihiro Ikeda’s disastrous quintuple bogey on No. 11 to wrest control then birdied No. 16 and parred the last two holes to pound out a three-stroke victory in the P500,000 ICTSI Riviera Ladies Classic despite a closing one-over 73 at the Couples course here, Friday.
Ignoring her rival’s misfortune on the 11th, Agojo went from two-down to two-up despite a bogey on the par-5 hole, then went on an attack mode to hit two birdies against a bogey in the last seven to clinch the win, snapping a long spell on the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour after a string of runner-up finishes last year.
“I really did not pay attention on the scores but kept focus on how to score birdies,” said Agojo, who ended up with the lone under-par total of 215 through the 54-hole tournament which served as the second leg of this year’s circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
“Even if I was in the lead after what happened to Chihiro, I still went on an aggressive mode,” added Agojo as she heeded the advice caddie pro Erwin Vinluan, who took over from Tonton Asistio, to go for the kill.
Agojo, who actually nailed her maiden pro win in Thailand last year but went on a spell in last year’s inaugurals of the country’s first-ever ladies pro circuit, pocketed the top purse of P100,000.
Ikeda, who took the lead from Agojo with a 71 Thursday, also went all-out after that 10 but just couldn’t hit birdies and settled for pars the rest of the way. She wound up with a 77 for a 218.
“It was unfortunate on what happened on No. 11,” rued Ikeda, who hit a butterfly off the tee, needed two shots to get out of the greenside bunker and reached the green in 6. Worse, she four-putted for that 10.
“I tried to strike back but just ran out of holes,” said Ikeda, who took home P70,000 and the stigma of that uncharacteristic 10 as she heads to Japan for a tournament next week.
Korean amateur Hwang Min Jeong, who threatened to within two with an impressive 70 in the second round, cracked when ranged against Agojo and Ikeda, hobbling with a 38 at the front and finishing with a 75. She, however, still took third place at 218 in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Nike, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.
Kwon Seo Yon, a Korean pro, carded a 74 and placed fourth at 220 but pocketed the third prize worth P45,000 while Anya Tanpinco and Sarah Ababa finished tied for fifth at 222 after a pair of 74s.
Lovelynn Guioguio, who had a solid 71 in the first round, hardly recovered from a 79 with a 77 to wind up seventh at 227 while Apple Fudolin made a 77, Lina de Guzman shot a 79 and amateur Ashia Nocum had a 79 and took the next three spots at 232, 234 and 236, respectively.(pr)

Late birdies net Ikeda one-shot lead  

SILANG, Cavite – Chihiro Ikeda and Jayvie Agojo switched places in the rain with the former leaning on late birdies to card a one-under 71 and snatch a one-stroke lead over the erstwhile leader in the second round of the P500,000 ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour at Riviera’s Couples layout here, Thursday.
Ikeda, who blew a solid start with a shaky finish Wednesday, hit back-to-back birdies from close range from No. 15 – the first catching Agojo at the helm and the other netting her the lead at three-under 141.
“We kind of struggled because of the rain. But I hit it good approach shots to within four feet on Nos. 15 and 16,” said Ikeda. “But there’s still a lot of work to do to finally win here.”
Agojo, who grabbed a one-stroke lead over Ikeda with a 69 in the first round, kept her edge at the turn, dropped to a share of the lead after Ikeda birdied No. 10, but surged ahead again with a birdie on No. 12.
But after the duo fumbled with bogeys on No. 14, Ikeda tied Agojo then took control as the Fil-Japanese shotmaker moved 18 holes away from nailing a first victory on the country’s first ladies pro circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Agojo, also in the hunt for her first local pro win, slid to second at 142 after a 73 and went straight to the practice green to polish her stroke.
“Putting was the difference,” said Agojo caddie and former pro Tonton Asistio. “We made about 28 putts in the first round but we had two three-putts today (yesterday). She really struggled on the greens.”
That should set the stage for a final round shootout between the fancied pair although a young Korean amateur threatened to spoil Ikeda and Agojo’s duel for the top P100,000 in the second leg of the eight-stage circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Riviera’s Hwang Min Jeong, who carries a 0.4 handicap, failed to sustain a three-under card with three holes to go, dropping a stroke on the par-5 16th to settle for a two-under 70.
But counting her earlier 73, Hwang moved just two strokes behind Ikeda at 143, earning her a spot in the championship round of the event backed by Nike, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.
Ikeda birdied No. 2 to tie Agojo but fell back with a missed-green, three-putt mishap for a double-bogey on the next only to bounce back with a six-foot birdie on No. 4. She, however, dropped another stroke on No. 8 to match Agojo’s opening 37 marred by bogeys on Nos. 5 and 9 against a birdie on No. 6.
Another Korean, pro Kwon Seo Yon also shot a 70 but stood five strokes behind at 146 while Anya Tanpinco turned in a second straight 74 for a 148 for joint fifth with Sarah Ababa, who stumbled with a 78.
Lovelynn Guioguio skied to a 79 for a 150 while Apple Fudolin recovered with a 75 for a 155, Lina de Guzman had a 77 for a 156 and amateur Ashia Nocum shot a 76 for a 157.(pr)

Agojo rallies past fading Ikeda, wrests 1-shot lead  

SILANG, Cavite – Jayvie Agojo came charging back in the last nine holes and shot a three-under 69 then pounced on Chihiro Ikeda’s wobbly finish to seize a one-stroke lead at the start of the P500,000 ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour at Riviera’s Couples layout here, Wednesday.
Agojo gunned down five birdies at the back to negate a three-putt miscue on No. 17 and a shaky 37 start then watched Ikeda blow a sizzling five-under 31 opening with a closing 39 and a 70 to grab the lead in the 54-hole tournament serving as the second leg of the ICTSI Philippine Ladies Golf Tour.
“I was too tight despite an opening birdie,” said Agojo, who launched her bid with a six-foot birdie putt on No. 1, only to reel back with back-to-back bogeys from No. 5.
But the former Philippine Ladies Open champion seeking a breakthrough on the country’s first-ever ladies pro tour sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. struck back at the back, stringing three straight birdies from No. 11 then sandwiched a bogey on the 17th with birdies, including a brilliant blind bunker shot from 80 yards that landed within five feet.
“I settled down at the back,” said Agojo, who also credited caddie and former pro Tonton Asistio for her fine start in the event backed by Nike, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp. “Our yardages were very okay, all my birdies were inside six feet.”
While Agojo leaned on a strong finish to wrest control, Ikeda squandered a solid start with a faltering windup to yield the lead. But the former SEA Games champion remained confident of her title chances with still 36 holes left in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“I was also surprised by my fiery start, four straight birdies and five in the first seven holes,” said Ikeda, who preserved a solid frontside 31 stint with a save par on No. 5.
But she failed to sustain her charge at the back, pushing her drive on the par-5 No. 11 and playing out to a stymied lie to end up with a double-bogey. She flubbed a two-foot birdie putt on the 12th then bogeyed the 17th for that 39.
Lovelynn Guioguio joined the fancied duo in today’s featured flight after the former national team mainstay put herself in early contention with a gutsy one-under 71 spiked by a closing 34.
Sarah Ababa matched par 72 while Korean amateur Hwang Min Jeong stayed in the hunt with a 73 followed by Anya Tanpinco, who carded a 74, and Korean pro Kwon Seo Yon, who turned in a 76.
Lina de Guzman struggled with a 79, Apple Fudolin skied to an 80 while amateur Ashia Nocum joined pros Jan Punzalan, Tracy Que, Mary Grace Estuesta and Reb Bareng at 81.(pr)

keda-Agojo duel looms as LPGT Riviera unwraps

Chihiro Ikeda and Jayvie Agojo drew separate flights at the start of the P500,000 ICTSI Riviera Classic at Riviera’s Couples course in Silang, Cavite on Wednesday, June 25 but are tipped to meet in the final round and clash for the crown just the same.
Both chasing a breakthrough win in the second edition of the country’s first-ever ladies pro circuit, Ikeda and Agojo hope to come up with a strong start for the momentum in the 54-hole championship serving as the second leg of an eight-stage circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
“This should be an interesting week. Everyone has a chance but as for me, I am so hungry for a win,” said Ikeda, the former SEA Games individual champion and one-time Philippine Ladies Open winner who missed a couple of tournaments in last year’s inaugurals of the tour organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
She vied for the crown in the kickoff leg at Orchard last April but wavered in the final round, enabling Agojo to snatch runner-up honors to last year’s Order of Merit winner and absentee Cyna Rodriguez.
But Ikeda primed up for this week’s clash with a rigorous training during the long break, building up her confidence and honing up her game for what could be her first pro victory after a checkered amateur career.
“I’m training more frequently now and I hope it helps,” she said.
Like Ikeda, Agojo and the rest of the compact field expect a fierce battle for the top P100,000 purse in the event backed by Nike, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp. But the field will also have to contend with the wind and the sleek putting surface of Couples layout,
“Yeah, it’s a wide-open race. Who knows? I might pick up my win here,” said former national team mainstay Anya Tanpinco, who will be playing with Agojo and Korean amateur Hwang Min Jeon in 8:10 a.m. group.
Ikeda will slug it out with Apple Fudolin and Lucy Landicho at 7:50 a.m. after Lina de Guzman and Korean Kwon Seo Yon, and Sylia Torres and Jan Punzalan tangle in separate two-player groups at 7:30 a.m. &:40 a.m., respectively.
Former Phl Ladies Open winner Mary Grace Estuesta will tee off at 8 a.m. in the company of Lovelynn Guioguio and Reb Bareng, while Tracy Que, wife of three-time Asian Tour winner and former Phl Open champion Angelo, drew Marjorie Pulumbarit and amateur Ashia Nocum in the 8:20 a.m. flight and Eva Minoza and Sarah Ababa, along with amateur Vanessa Tsutsui, will start at 8:30 a.m.(pr)