Category Archives: golf

Local aces upbeat as 2nd PGT Asia unwraps

TARLAC – The Philippine Golf Tour Asia kicks off its second season today (Tuesday, April 17) with a promise of a shootout among a crack international cast right at the start of the $100,000 ICTSI Luisita Championship at the Luisita Golf and Country Club here.

While majority of the foreign cast, led by those who earned their Tour cards in last weekend’s Q-School, hope to sustain their form, the local top guns will be coming into the event fresh from a long break, making them hungry and eager to slug it out with the best of the best.

“It’s been a while since we last played in the Philippine Open. So I think we have a chance here, everybody is raring to go,” said multi-titled Tony Lascuña. “I, for one, am keen on winning again.”

The Solaire Philippine Open at The Country Club last March served as the final leg of the inaugural PGT Asia with Miguel Tabuena edging Thai Prom Meesawat in the playoff to rule the Centennial staging of Asia’s oldest National Open.

Tabuena has begged off to lead the Filipinos’ bid at one of his favorite courses but the likes of Lascuña, Clyde Mondilla and Jhonnel Ababa are more than ready to fill in the slack and take the cudgels for the locals out to extend their domination of the region’s newest circuit sponsored by ICTSI.

Tabuena and Ababa won two legs each while Mondilla, Lascuña, Rene Menor and Justin Quiban accounted for the four other titles in the first season of the circuit put up to raise the level of the Filipino golfers’ games and at the same time make the country a major golfing destination.

But this year’s foreign contingent from at least 17 countries looks formidable with Q-School topnotcher Sattaya Supupramai also tipped to re-display the form that netted him the winning 14-under 274 total at the quaint Robert Trent Jones Sr.-designed layout.

Fellow Thais Sorachut Hansapiban and Itthipat Buranatanyarat, who finished among the Top 5 last week, are also in the fold, along with South African Mathiam Keyser, who placed second to Tabuena here last year, and Dutch Guido Van der Valk, whose victory in last month’s PGT first leg at Eagle Ridge also makes him a top contender for the top $17,500 purse in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

Competition is expected to be fierce with only the top 50 players plus ties from a starting field of 129 advancing to the final 36 holes of the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.

Others tipped to contend are John Michael O’Toole and Nicolas Paez of the US, Matt Killen of England, Aussie David Gleeson, Ian Andrew of Indonesia, Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia, Japanese Yuta Sudo and Thai Pasavee Lertvilai, last year’s Q-School topnotcher.

Also vowing to dish out a strong start are local bets Joenard Rates, Michael Bibat, Elmer Salvador, Jay Bayron, Jerson Balasabas, Jobim Carlos, Keanu Jahns, Zanieboy Gialon, Orlan Sumcad, Ira Alido, Marvin Dumandan, James Lam, Mhark Fernando, Ferdie Aunzo and Mars Pucay.

Meanwhile, Riviera will host the second leg of the 10-stage PGTA on May 30-June 2 with Manila Southwoods staging the third tournament on June 5-8 before the circuit moves to Forest Hills on July 11-14, Orchard on Sept. 5-8, Summit Point on Sept. 12-15 before heading back to Luisita on Oct. 17-20 for the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Open. Venues for the last three stages are still being finalized.(pr)

Castro, Harmie post Phl Junior romps

Luis Castro and Harmie Constantino turned the final round of the Philippine Junior Amateur Golf Championship into a victory walk as they cruised to lopsided victories despite over-par finishes at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Trece Martires, Cavite yesterday.

Castro turned in his worst card of four-over 76, marred by two double-bogeys, but still posted an emphatic 15-stroke victory in the boys’ division with a 291 total, anchored by back-to-back 71s in the first two days that set the tone for his rout of the huge field in the 72-hole tournament organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines.

Carl Corpus skied to an 80 but still grabbed the runner-up honors with a 306 as erstwhile second-running Sean Ramos shot himself in the foot with an 87 and slipped to joint third at 311 with Paolo Wong, who carded a 79.

Riggs Illescas made an 81 and wound up fifth at 322 followed by Paolo Barro (79-323), David Guangko (79-328) and Miguel Ilas (85-330) while Masaichi Otake carded a 78 and tied Pierre Ticzon, who fumbled with an 86, at ninth at 334.

Constantino, on the other hand, closed out with a 74 and pooled a 293, beating opening day leader Junia Gabasa by seven for her second straight crown in the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour sponsored by MVP Sports Foundation.

The national team mainstay, who won a tournament in the country’s ladies pro tour in 2016, also dominated the WExpress RVF Cup in Canlubang last February.

Gabasa, who took control in the first day with a 72 but trailed by three after 54 holes, reeled farther back with a 43 start although she recovered with a 35 for a 78 and a 300 total.

Nicole Abelar limped home with a pair of 40s and ended up third at 304 while Sofia Legaspi finished a far fourth at 312 after a 77 and Laurea Duque ballooned to an 81 for a 317.

Aniceto Mandanas carded a third straight 80 and also ran away with the Special Division (18-and-above) crown with a 318 with Aldo Barro finishing with a 351 after an 89 and Sung Yeon Soo of Korea pooling a 372 after a 90.

Korean Jung Jae Hyun also capped his domination of the 12-year-and-below category with a 231 after a 77 with Mikhaella Constantino fumbling with a 91 for a 271 and Jeong Yeaheun pooling a 272 after a 94.(pr)

Superal targets 3rd straight at Luisita

Princess Superal hopes to further hone up for the Symetra Tour as she seeks a third straight Ladies Philippine Golf Tour crown in the ICTSI Luisita Ladies Championship beginning Wednesday (April 4) at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac.

Superal deferred plans to play in her first Symetra Tour also set this week in California, opting instead to compete here and get better after scoring back-to-back victories in Tagaytay and Riviera last month.

But the field she’s facing in the P1.5 million event sponsored by ICTSI also get tougher with seven Thai aces signing up along with a host of amateurs out to keep a tradition in the country’s premier ladies circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

Former leg winner Saruttaya Ngam-usawan banners the delegation from the country’s perennial regional rival that includes Jaruporn P. Na Ayuttaya, Numa Gulyanamitta, Sarinee Thitiratanakorn, Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang, Thanuttra Boonraksasat and Ananya Vitayakonkomol.

But Superal will also have fellow local aces to contend with, including former three-time Order of Merit winner and fellow Symetra Tour campaigner Cyna Rodriguez and recent Eagle Ridge leg winner Chihiro Ikeda, who is expected to come into the 54-hole tournament in top shape after struggling in the last two legs with a slight hand injury.

Still, focus will be on the 21-year-old Superal, who broke a long LPGT title-spell with a record setting 16-shot victory at Tagaytay Highlands then followed it up with a five-stroke romp at Riviera two weeks ago.

“I feel good and pretty confident of my chances for another crack at the crown,” said Superal. “But the rest have also prepared hard for this during the break, so I expect a tough challenge.”

That could also come from the amateurs who have continuously proved their mettle against the best year-in and year-out, snatching one or two victories each season.

This week’s cast will be led by The Country Club mainstays Mikha Fortuna, Sofia Chabon, Laia Barro, Samantha Dizon and Mafy Singson with Kristine Torralba, Japanese Kelly Marutani and Sharon Park of Canana also in the hunt.

Other backers of the seventh leg of this year’s LPGT are Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZGm PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.(pr)

Tight finish seen in Phl Junior Am golf

The Philippine Junior Amateur Golf Championship kicks off a busy summer schedule for the sport’s future stars with a huge field gearing up for a fierce showdown in the event firing off tomorrow (April 3) at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Trece Martires, Cavite.

Paolo Wong and Harmie Constantino headline the cast in their respective divisions with the former tipped to slug it out with the likes of Paolo Barro, Luis Castro, Carl Corpuz, David Guangko, Weiyu Gao, Miguel Ilas, Pierre Ticzon and Joaquin Velez among others.

Constantino, meanwhile, sets out to complete an unfinished business last year when she fell short of her title bid and lost to absentee Yuka Saso. But the many-time national team mainstay will still have her hands full this week with Nicole Abelar, Kayla Nocum, Sofia Legaspi, Junia Gabasa and Weifang Gao also vying in the event featuring the top and rising stars in the 17-and-under age group.

South Koreans Jang Yun Ji, Kang Da Yeon, Kim Seo Young and Baek So Wom are also expected to spoil the locals’ title drive in the four-day championship sponsored by MVP Sports Foundation and held as part of the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour.

Spicing up the event, organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines, are the Special Divisions for 18-years-old-and-above to be played over four rounds and 12-years-old-and-below set over 54 holes.

The top 40 players after 36 holes (boys) will advance to the final two rounds while the top 20 in the girls’ division will qualify for the last two rounds.

Others vying in the boys’ division are Cedric Aunzo, Perry Bucay, Santino Diokno, Joaquin Gomez, Liam Harvey, Miguel Ilas, Riggs Illescas, Francis Lanuza, Juan Laurel, James Luguban, Jermaine Melosantos, Masaichi Otake, Sean Ramos, Kristoff Soliven, siblings Delfin and Bernard Trinos and Japanese Gettykane Nakamura.(pr)

SOLAIRE PHL OPEN: Mamat, Meesawat wrest control as Lewton fumbles

STA. ROSA, Laguna – Former champion Mardan Mamat of Singapore birdied the difficult backside par-3s of The Country Club in impressive fashion but fumbled on the daunting closing hole and dropped to joint lead with Thai Prom Meesawat at 70 at the start of the 100th Solaire Philippine Open at The Country Club here yesterday.
Englishman Steve Lewton actually kept it a three-way logjam in one stretch at the back in a separate flight but the defending champion wavered at the finish, bogeying two of the last six, including the 18th, to fall to joint third with Korean Taehoon Kim at 71.
The elite field struggled on the long layout that measures up to 7,735 yards despite the absence of the wind early on and majority floundered when the gusts started to whip up in afternoon play, sending the scores soaring and the players tumbling off the crowded leaderboard in the record $600,000 event presented by Solaire Resort and Casino.
But Mamat, 50, and Meesawat stood up to buck the challenge and seize control in a kind of start that could lead to a shootout in the next three days over a course where small mistakes could lead to big numbers.
“It’s very fortunate to play under-par in this course. It’s not easy out there but got a lucky break in some of the holes and made a couple of putts,’” said Mamat, a five-time winner in Asia, including the Phl Open at Wack Wack in 2012, and the Singapore Masters in 2006 that also served as a European Tour event.
He used a 3-wood on the 276-yard No. 11 and banged in an 11-foot putt then hacked a 9-iron to within two feet and drilled it. But he missed grabbing the solo lead with a closing bogey after missing the green and a bad chip, enabling Meesawat, who had two victories in Asia, including a playoff win over Miguel Tabuena in 2016 in Taiwan, to get a shared view of the top.
The Thai veteran banked on a three-birdie string from No. 8 to put himself in early contention for the top $108,000 purse in the 72-hole championship organized by the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Lewton, who nipped absentee American Johannes Veerman in a playoff here last year, looked headed to taking up from where he left off – putting up a three-under card after 12 holes. But he bogeyed No. 13 then dropped another stroke on the tough par-4 closing hole.
Jay Bayron thought he had all figured out the Tom Weiskoph-designed course with a three-under card after eight holes, sparking hopes for a big start for a local player who missed the Open title by one in 2011 at Wack Wack. But he bogeyed the long par-4 No. 9 and though he recovered the stroke with a birdie on the par-5 10th, the veteran Davaoeño campaigner reeled back with three straight bogeys from No. 11 then traded two birdies with the same number of bogeys in the last five holes to finish with a 72.
Other even par scorers were Malaysians Bin Jailani Amir Nazrin, Leun Kwang Kim and Nicholas Fung, Aussie David Gleeson and Alvaro Arizabaleta of Colombia,
Miguel Tabuena, winner in the rain-shortened Open at Luisita in 2015, eagled the 10th but bogeyed two of the next five and slipped to joint 11th at 73, including American Nicolas Paez, Dutch Guido Van der Valk and multi-titled Tony Lascuña, Gerald Rosales, champion of the all-peso Open in 2000, and Lloyd Go, who topped the PGT Q-School recent at Splendido.
A slew of others also turned in impressive starts, only to stumble on the terrors that lurked on the bunkers, roughs and greens of the dreaded layout with the winds coming into play late in the day.  Lascuña had a one-under card with six holes to play but dropped three strokes on the tight par-4 No. 4 and dropped to 73 after a birdie on No. 8 while Go blew a two-under card after seven holes at the back as he bogeyed four of the next seven, needing to birdie the par-5 eighth to save a 73.
Two weeks after edging Tabuena with a five-under overcall card to claim the TCC Invitational crown, Micah Shin found the layout not to his liking this time, tripping with a two double-bogey-marred 40 start at the back. He birdied No. 3 but bogeyed the next three and ended up with a 78.
At joint 63rd, the 21-year-old Korean-American is barely in the 65-player plus tie cut line unlike a host of other pre-tournament favorites in the event sponsored by ICTSI, Meralco, PLDT, Smart, Bulgari, Diamond Motor Corp., BDO, Central Azucarera de Tarlac, Amon Trading, Dynamic Sports and Custom Clubmakers.
Jhonnel Ababa, one of the hottest local players with back-to-back victories on the PGT Asia last January, gunned down three birdies but fumbled with five bogeys, including three in a five-hole stretch from No. 11. He wound up with a 74 and tumbled to joint 16th with Jerson Balasabas, Rico Depilo, American John Kelly, England’s Matt Killen and Kwang Leun Kim of Malaysia.
Angelo Que, a former Open winner who won three titles here at TCC Invitational, failed to recover from an OB mishap on No. 4 as he limped with three more bogeys against two bogeys for a 75, six shots behind the leader in a tie with 12 others.
Clyde Mondilla, the reigning PGT Order of Merit winner, shot himself in the foot with a fat 80 marred by seven bogeys and a double bogey against a lone birdie while two-time champion Frankie Miñoza virtually bowed out with an unlikely 87 marred by two double bogeys, one quadruple bogey and seven bogeys in a birdie-less round.(pr)

71st PAL Interclub fires off in Bacolod on March 1

71st PAL Interclub fires off in Bacolod on March 1

BACOLOD – Marapara and Binitin, old layouts here that vary very much in character but offer the same stern tests of golf, will host the 71st edition of the PAL Senior’s and Men’s Regular Interclub championships starting March 1.

Now known as the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club and the Bacolod Golf and Country Club, respectively, these two courses will take centerstage as Luisita and Manila Southwoods shoot to extend their respective reigns in the Senior’s and Men’s divisions of the country’s unofficial team golf championship.

And unlike in the past, the Men’s championship will see a Sunday ending this year as tournament organizers have decided to give the field three official practice rounds leading to the opening skirmishes on March 8.

Jaime J. Bautista, the indefatigable president of the country’s flag carrier, is expected to hit the ceremonial drive and signal the start of Senior play on Feb. 26, Monday, at Marapara.

Canlubang is again listed as the chief threat to Luisita even if the multi-titled Tommy Manotoc is again expected to miss play owing to some family commitments in the United States.

The Senior field will also have three days to sample both courses, though early reports have it that the Luisitans have already come over to test both layouts and not leave anything to chance.

Southwoods will come into the event as the heavy favorite, more so because Japanese teenager Yuto Katsuragawa has confirmed that he will return to play for the Carmona-based squad.(pr)

Team SEA, Phl begin Pradera Ladies 2

LUBAO, Pampanga – Yuka Saso hopes to cap a brilliant two-week display of individual skills with a victory in team play as the Philippines seeks to equalize against Team Southeast Asia in the Pradera Verde Ladies Challenge 2 firing off on Monday, Jan. 15 at the Pradera Golf and Country Club here.
Saso bolstered the hosts’ chances in the novel event by winning a pro tournament and the Philippine Ladies Open the last two weeks with the Fil-Japanese shotmaker brimming with confidence as she leads the team out to avenge a lopsided defeat in last year’s inaugurals of the three-day championship.
“The battle cry is to win the championship. We will give them a very good fight given the depth of the team this year,” said Norman Sto. Domingo, one of Team Phl’s skippers who include Rolly Romero and Daisy Reyes. “We have beefed up our lineup and I’m hoping the girls all play 100 percent in all three days.”
But the visiting squad, led by the top players from Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, also toughened up its roster to underscore its readiness to duplicate its imposing 19 1/2-10 1/2 romp in the first Pradera Ladies Challenge pitting the country’s leading jungolfers and amateurs against the top players from the neighboring SEA countries.
“Of course, our goal is to retain the crown. We also have new players and we hope they will blend in well with those who played last year,” said Team SEA co-captain Phunampa Pornperapan of Thailand, the other being Jantsonn Kan of Malaysia.
That should guarantee a fierce but friendly duel right in the opening Scramble format in the morning among five teams before play shifts to alternate shot in the afternoon. The two sides will play best ball tomorrow (Tuesday) then back to alternate shot format in the afternoon while the deciding singles (10 matches) will be held Wednesday with the team to score 15.5 points winning the perpetual Pradera Verde Ladies trophy.
Saso didn’t see action last year but with her current form, the 16-year-old star is expected to provide the firepower and spunk to a team composed of PLO runner-up Mikha Fortuna, Harmie Constantino, Nicole Abelar, Tomi Arejola, Sofia Chabon, Bernice Olivarez-Ilas, Kristine Torralba, Kayla Nocum and 13-year-olds Annyka Cayabyab and Laurea Duque.
But Team SEA is upbeat and all primed up for a repeat in the Ryder Cup-style format event, a brainchild of Archen Cayabyab, Lubao Mayor Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab and Sto. Domingo as part of their effort to help boost the country’s junior and amateur golf program and at the same time foster camaraderie and friendship with the neighboring SEA countries.
“We’re optimistic of our chances. Though Onkanok (Soisuwan) is the only holdover from the Thai group plus two youngsters, our team is keen for competition and we are quite positive of our chances to be champion again,” said Kan.
Soisuwan will be joined by compatriots Kultida Pramphun and Pinkaew Trachentong with Indonesian Michela Tjan and 13-year-olds Pimkwan Chookaew and Phannarai Meesom-us of Thailand and Singapore’s Shannon Tan backstopping the squad that also includes three Malaysian players in Ashley Lau, Audrey Tan and Zulaikah Nurzian with veteran Winnie Ng providing the experience and leadership.(pr)