IT’S been four years since the Philippine last held a trophy at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California.
And it’s up to a promising bunch of young Filipino shotmakers to end the wait.
The likes of Nicole and Stephanie Gan and Lucas de Guzman will be looking to follow up on the feat of Aidric Chan when the IMG Junior World Championships blast off 8 to 13 July.
For them, the peg would be Chan who ended the country’s 33-year dry spell in 2019.
Then 18 years old, Chan rallied from 26th place to seize the title, scoring 69-67-69 for a 72-hole total of 11-under 277. One stroke back was New Zealand’s Jimmy Zheng.
“We are looking at Chan’s feat as an inspiration,” said Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines president Oliver Gan who is sending a full complement of 45 junior golfers competing in six age-group divisions.
San Diego has always been a watershed for golfers across all nations. It gave birth to the sport’s brightest stars like Notah Begay III, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Corey Pavin, Nick Price, Craig Stadler, David Toms, Jason Day and Tiger Woods.
To provide inspiration, Chan showed up in the Northern Luzon leg of the JGFP two weeks ago at the Baguio Country Club in Baguio City.
He teamed up with Cassedy Cuenca to win the special division.
Some of the Junior World-bound golfers who played in Baguio were the Gan sisters and Lucas de Guzman.
Stephanie Gan joined hands with her father and JGFP head to bag the Division II crown.
“We are happy to announce that some of the representatives hail from the South where we focused our program early this year,” said the elder Gan.
Among the representatives from the South are Alethea Gaccion, Ralph Rian Batican and Rafella Batican of Cagayan de Oro; Isabella Tabanas and Alonzo Retuerto of Del Monte, Bukidnon; Grace Quintanilla, Jacob Cajita and Tashanah Balangauan of Cebu City; Jared Saban of Davao City; and Brittany Tamayo of South Cotabato.
Gaccion and Ralph Batican have had a great season so far, having won overseas.
Gaccion won the Faldo Series Asia in Vietnam while Batican stamped his class in the Asian Junior Masters in Thailand.
The JGFP has kept junior players busy with numerous tournaments held across the country.
“We are fortunate to have sponsors who support our programs,” said Gan who has embarked on an ambitious grassroots program under the guidance of JGFP chairman Tommy Manotoc.
One of the biggest benefactors is former Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo who has poured in money to help sustain the JGFP programs. He is expected to accompany his daughter Monique and join the national delegation.
“Cong. Mikey has been a big help to us. He is our godfather,” Gan said.
To prepare the country’s representatives, the JGFP hosted several training sessions.
“We are confident that we can make the Philippines proud in San Diego,” the JGFP chief said.
Some of the golfers are already in the United States playing tune-up events.
The list of the Philippine representatives:
Boys’ 15-18 — Bobe Salahog, Santino Pineda, Jacob Cajita, Zachary Castro
Girls’ 15-18 — Reese Ng, Alethea Gaccion, Grace Quintanilla, Anya Cedo, Monique Arroyo
Boys’ 13-14 — Geoffrey Tan, Tristan Jefferson Padilla, Patrick Tambalque, Rafael Leonio
Girls’ 13-14 — Alessandra Luciano, Celine Abalos, Tashanah Balangauan, Isabella Tabanas
Boys’ 11-12 — Ralph Rian Batican, Zianbeau Edoc, David Teves, Anton Zingapan
Girls’ 11-12 — Nicole Gan, Lisa Sarines, Precious Zaragosa, Brittany Tamayo, Mona Sarines
Boys’ 9-10 — Vito Sarines, Race Phoenix Manhit, Jared Saban, Chan Ahn
Girls’ 9-10 — Cailey Chanelle Gonzales, Rafella Adrienne Batican, Aerin Chan, Janae Galo
Boys’ 7-8 — Alonzo Retuerto, Scott Dee, Kenji Yamada
Girls’ 7-8 — Kami del Mundo, Brie Macasaet, Eliana Mendoza
Boys’ 6-and-under — Kenzo Tan, Lucas de Guzman, Zoji Edoc
Girls’ 6-and-under — Stephanie Gan, Winter Serapio.