LIPA, Batangas– Pauline del Rosario takes a break from her hectic China and Taiwan LPGA Tour campaigns as she, and former three-time Order of Merit winner Cyna Rodriguez, spearhead the local challenge against the crack Thailand side in The Women’s Championship beginning today at the Summit Point Golf and Country Club.
The Thais have ruled four of the first eight legs of this year’s Ladies Philippine Golf Tour, including three winners – Yupaporn Kawinpakorn, Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang and Onkanok Soisuwan – who are in the huge 41-player roster slugging it out for top honors in the P1.5 million championship sponsored by ICTSI.
But Del Rosario and Rodriguez vowed to dish out their best and stop the country’s perennial regional rivals’ domination of the circuit with the former coming into 54-hole event brimming with confidence, and the latter out to snap a string of heartbreaks in the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.-organized circuit she used to dominate.
“It’s nice to be back here and hopefully I’d be able to get off to a good start,” said Del Rosario, who won four legs on her way to claiming the OOM crown last year.
But she admits the field is strong and tough with 26-year-old Kawinpakorn, who won at Beverly Place last January, looming as a player to beat following her victory in the China LPGA Zhuhai Heritage in Guangdong last weekend.
Del Rosario and Kawinpakorn actually get to size each other up early as they are paired with amateur Mafy Singson in the featured 7:40 a.m. flight with Rodriguez drawing Soisuwan, winner of the last LPGT stop at Mt. Malarayat last month, and another Thai Cristawan Rungruang at 8:30 a.m.
“With many foreigners, I expect it to be a grind for us (Filipinas). But we won’t budge a bit. Nobody has an advantage at Summit and that makes it more exciting. I think anybody can win,” said Rodriguez.
Pattaranakrueang, who nipped Rodriguez in a playoff to snare the Luisita leg crown last April, is paired with local bet Gretchen Villacencio and Japanese Natsuki Kishikawa at 7:30 a.m.
Other local players tipped to contend in the event are Eagle Ridge leg winner Chihiro Ikeda, Alex Etter, Marvi Monsalve, Lucy Landicho and amateur LK Go.
Also seeing action are Thais Tiranan Yoopan, Mookharin Ladgratok, Piyathida Chaiyapan, Chonlada Chayanun, Pannapa Polnamin and Saraporn Chamchoi along with amateurs Kelly Marutani of Japan, Koreans Hyun Ji Rho, Kim Hui Won, Kwon Tae Won and Jang Yunji and Sharon Park of Canada.