Philippine golfers start hunt for first Asiad gold in 32 years
JAKARTA – A team of young players who are all full of potentials will carry the country’s hopes to nail a first Asian Games golf gold medal in 32 long years here.
The Pondok Indah Golf Course is a paradise at the heart of the city where four Philippine men’s and three women’s golfers launch a quest for the Asiad gold that the Philippines has never had since Ramon Brobio ruled the men’s individual play in Seoul in 1986.
Tee-off starts at 6 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the 72-hole competition in the Robert Trent Jones-designed layout that is much like the Sta. Elena course in terms of makeup and character to the liking of the Philippine team.
Luis Miguel Castro, Weiwei Go, Lloyd Jefferson Go and Rupert Zaragosa make up the men’s squad while Lois Kaye Go, Bianca Isabel Pagdanganan and Yuka Saso compose the women’s team which are both tipped to be strong medal contenders.
The men compete in a four-to-play, three-to-count format while the women vie in a three-to-play, two-to-count play.
“Among the teams we’ve had in years, to my recollection, this is the team with the best chance to win,” said Philippine non-playing captain Bones Floro.
“The team is well prepared, with the players having played many tournaments abroad,” added Floro of the players trained no less by former Canadian and Japan Golf Tour campaigner Rick Gibson, a one-time Philippine Open champ.
All the players are on top of their game, especially the women, with Go and Pagdanganan doing well with their US NCAA teams and Saso being the champion of the 2018 Philippine Ladies Open.
Saso is said to be a very seasoned 17-year-old player.
Pagdanganan, 20, is fresh from a title run with University of Arizona in the US NCAA. The former Philippine Junior Open champ played a key role with a crucial eagle in their semifinal win over Baylor.
Go, 19, is now with South Carolina after a stint with Boston College. She won the individual bronze medal in last year’s Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.
The men’s squad is also a force to reckon with, making Philippines golf officials hopeful of a medal from both the men’s and women’s competitions.
Floro believes Japan, South Korea and Thailand are the teams the Philippines has to contend with in chase of additions to the one gold, four silver and seven bronze medals the country has won in the Asian Games.
The Filipinos went home without a medal from the 2014 Games in Incheon. The last time the country won a medal (a silver) was in 2010 in Guangzhou through Miguel Tabuena’s second-place finish in men’s individual.