Cyna Rodriguez hopes to put it all together this week and break a long spell on the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour she used to dominate as she leads the local challenge in the ICTSI Mount Malarayat Ladies Classic beginning Tuesday at the Mts. Lobo-Malipunyo nines in Lipa City, Batangas.
The former three-time Order of Merit winner missed ending a two-year title drought with a shaky finish at Luisita last month that saw her yield the crown to Thai Supakchaya Pattanakrueang on the third playoff hole after re-claiming the lead late in regulation.
Though Pattanakrueang won’t be around in the P1.25 million tournament put up by ICTSI, Rodriguez will have a slew of other Thai aces to contend with, including Sarinee Thitiratanakorn, Onkanok Soisuwan and Tirapan Yoopan, who banner a 13-player strong Thai cast out to deliver their fourth victory in the season.
Other Thais competing are Jaruporn P Na Ayuttaya, Piyathida Sangkagaro, Kanokwan Yospark, Goonlacha Paiboonpong, Paphada Wongwaikihphaisal, Pattraporn Kraturuk, Pimpadsron Sangkagaro, Pannapa Polnamin and Chommapat Ponthanarak.
Amolkan Phalajivin is also eyeing a second crown in the 54-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. although the 2014 Splendido leg winner has slowed down the last couple of years trying to fix some kinks in her game.
Meanwhile, 14 amateurs, headed by The Country Club bets Mikha Fortuna and Sofia Chabon, are also in the fold, all itching to spoil big guns’ party in the eighth leg of this year’s LPGT backed Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZGm PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.
They are Kristine Torralba, Chanelle Avaricio, Junia Gabasa, Sam Bruce, Yana Casas, Mafy Singson and Laia Barro along with Koreans Hyun Ji Rho, Kim Hui Won and Jang Yunji, Japanese Kelly Marutani and Canadian Sharon Park.
But these youngsters will need to come up with solid games in all three days to upend the pros, particularly the Thais, who are out to make it back-to-back after Pattaranakrueang nosed out Rodriguez in Tarlac.
The country’s perennial regional rivals are actually coming into the 54-hole championship in full force with Sarinee Thitiratanakorn, Onkanok Soisuwan and Tirapan Yoopan bannering a 13-player strong cast out to deliver their fourth win in the season.
But expect the locals to foil the Thais’ bid, particularly Rodriguez, along with LPGT Riviera leg champion Chihiro Ikeda, Alex Etter, Sarah Ababa, Lucy Landicho, Gretchen Villacencio, Apple Fudolin, Marvi Monsalve, Anya Tanpinco and Eva Miñoza as well as American Lisa Kang and Korean Choeun Bang.