Wide-open race looms as Ladies Open unwraps

The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 16 2013 12:02 PM | Updated as of Jan 16 2013 08:02 PM

MANILA, Philippines - An early shootout among the country's top shotmakers and a horde of foreign aces is expected right in today’s start of the Champion Infinity Philippine Ladies Open 2013 at the Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country in Lipa City, Batangas.

Dottie Ardina, hard-pressed to nail the elusive crown, drew Malaysian Michelle Koh and Clare Legaspi in the 8 a.m. first flight at the Mt. Lobo side of the 27-hole layout set against the backdrop of a local mountain range. The tough Mt. Makulot serves as the other nine where the other half of the starting 58-player field will start.

Princess Superal, the 16-year-old emerging star from the ICTSI-The Country Club stable, also hopes to launch a strong start against Thailand’s Supamas Sangchan and Jan Punzalan at 8:20 a.m. after the 8:10 a.m. group composed of former champion Cyna Rodriguez and teammate Jayvie Agojo and Malaysian Loy Hee Ying.

"It's a long course and pin placements will be challenging, so we expect a real battle of talent and wits," said Marissa Romano, president of the organizing Women's Golf Association of the Phils.

Thai aces Suthavee Chanachai and Benyapa Niphatsophon are also tipped to contend for the crown in the 51st staging of the country’s premier ladies championship presented by Champion Infinity while Australians Zoe Ticehurst and Prescila Keogh and Americans Suzette Kirchner and Janess Carr hope to make the most of their stint at Mt. Makulot.

Koreans Yang Ju Young, Olive Yoon and Diane Lee, meanwhile, seek to keep the crown won by compatriot Lee Jeong Hwa at Wack Wack last year as they kick off their bid with local bet Racquel Banawa at 9:20 a.m. at Mt. Makulot.

Still, focus will be on Ardina, the former Junior World champion who is coming off an eight-stroke romp in the Philippine Amateur last week, also at Wack Wack.

"I'm ready and confident. I just hope to get a good start," said Ardina on the eve of the tournament sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Coca-Cola, Duty Free Phils., Pacsports with support from the Department of Tourism.

Others seeing action are Malaysians Aretha Pan Herng, Dianne Luke and Siti Zulaikhaa, Singapore’s Gillian Sim, Meenah Fong and Howe Wen Li, and Thais Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong, Ornnicha Konsunthea and Chanya Prathetrat.

The other local bets tipped to contend for the title are Chanel Avaricio, who won in San Diego recently, Lovelynn Guioguio, Sarah Ababa, Bernice Olivarez-Ilas, Sam Martirez, Felicia Medalla, Andie Unson and Bianca Pagdanganan.

The event's other backers are Bailey’s, Mancare Health Systems Inc., Group Management & Development, Inc. by Gilberto Duavit, chairman and CEO, Holland Blooms, Impact Magazine, Berenger, the official wine of the PGA tour, Spectrum Graphics, Tres Palmas, Alexis Jewellers and Alabang, Forest Hills, Manila Golf, Orchard, Canlubang, Sta. Elena and Tagaytay Highlands Ladies Chapters.