The touring ladies step up their drive in the final stretch of this year’s Ladies Philippine Golf Tour beginning with the ICTSI Valley Golf Challenge Wednesday in Antipolo with Chihiro Ikeda going all out not only for a third leg championship but also the Order of Merit lead.
With current OOM frontrunner Chanelle Avaricio opting to vie in the Thailand Ladies Masters, also slated this week, Ikeda looks to get past the three-leg winner in the rankings with another victory or at least a strong finish at the demanding Valley South course.
“No expectations but I’ll do my best. I’ve trained hard for this and hope my short game and putting will hold in all three days,” said Ikeda, who held off Sarah Ababa by two at Eagle Ridge Aoki last July.
Avaricio leads the OOM race with earnings of P522,500 with Ikeda, the 2016 OOM champion, just behind with P485,250, and Harmie Constantino and Ababa within striking distance with P368,250 and P347,625 winnings, respectively.
That makes this week’s battle crucial with Ikeda, Constantino and Ababa also have to deal with a host of talented amateurs likewise out to fuel their own title aspirations in the 54-hole, P750,000 championship put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc.
The Filipino-Japanese will tee off at 9:10 a.m. with top amateur Mafy Singson and Lesley Icoy.
Singson and Rianne Malixi are also tipped to crowd the pros with both national team mainstays seeking a second LPGT crown this year.
Singson, coming off a World Amateurs stint in France, topped the Splendido Taal leg last May, while Malixi bested multi-titled Princess Superal at Luisita last March.
The 15-year-old Malixi, toughened up by a three-month stint in the US, plays with former two-leg winner Constantino and rising star Martina Miñoza.
Last year’s Highlands leg champion Sunshine Baraquiel starts with Ababa and Marvi Monsalve at 9 a.m.
The other pairings:
Amateur Eagle Ace Superal, Majorie Pulumbarit and Apple Fudolin at 9:30 a.m.; Gretchen Villacencio, Kristine Fleetwood and Eva Miñoza clash at 9:40 a.m.; Lovelyn Guioguio, Pamela Mariano and Lucy Landicho tangle at 9:50 a.m.; and
Abigail Abarcas, Althea Paige Gaccion and Julianna Go at 10 a.m.