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National Stroke Play kicks off today

The National Stroke Play Championship gets underway Tuesday with one of the strongest fields ever assembled at the Langer course of the Riviera Golf and Country Club in Silang, Cavite.

Homegrown Kristoffer Arevalo, who holds a +4.5 handicap, is the highest-ranked player followed by Filipino-American Jaden Dumdumaya who is making his debut on the national stage.

Arevalo is paired with Manila Southwoods teammate Josh Jorge and Fil-Briton Enrique Dimayuga at 7:50 a.m. on the first hole.

Dimayuga, a 21-year-old standout at the University of Arkansas, is visiting the country for the first time and is a last-minute entry.

The participation of Dumdumaya, a 16-year-old junior sensation, is drawing a lot of attention in the return of the 72-hole event shelved for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dumdumaya was the 2021 Player of the Year of the Junior Tour of North Carolina.

Last year, he won the boys’ 14-15 age-group division of the National Drive, Chip and Putt competition at Augusta National in Georgia, home of the Masters.

Over the weekend, the La Salle High School junior sampled the Langer course for two straight rounds with junior Patrick Gene Tambalque and had a clear idea of how to play the difficult course.

“He had a hard time at first but got tips from our former club champion Erik Escalona on how to play the course,” said Ryan Tambalque, father of Patrick Gene.

The elder Tambalque said Dumdumaya’s ball striking was strong and consistent.

“On the second day, Jaden scored 3-under despite the winds. His father-coach Stan did a superb job of how to handle the course, where to place his shots, and how to use his clubs,” Tambalque narrated.

Dumdumaya will tee off at 7:40 a.m. on hole No. 1 with Aidric Chan of the University of Arizona and Adrian Romero.

Arevalo and Chan are among the national players seeing action in the four-day event.

The others are Carl Corpus, Jet Hernandez, Shinichi Suzuki, Edison Tabalin, Jacob Rolida and Elee Bisera.

Corpus, the individual champion in the recent 72nd Fil-Am Invitational in Baguio City, is paired with Hernandez and Lo Yung-Cheng at 8 a.m. on the first hole.

Suzuki, a 14-year-old division winner at the Asian Junior Masters last year, will start on the 10th tee at 6:50 a.m. alongside Ryan Monsalve and Lloyd Labrador.

Another player to watch is Tabalin, who won the Thailand Junior World Championship a few months ago. He will also tee off on 10 with Irfan Horshaharudin and John Edward Dy at 7:50 a.m.

Rolida, on the other hand, will play with Jhondie Quibol and Masaichi Otake at 7:50 a.m. on 10 while Bisera will start at 8 a.m. alongside Rashid Adul and Sean Dominic Granada also on 10.

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