ICTSI Champion Tour lures elite cast

Renuka Suksukont
Renuka Suksukont

Three of Taiwan LPGA’s top 10 players, two Philippines Ladies Masters champions from Thailand and a slew of local and foreign aces prime up for what promises to be an explosive two-leg ICTSI Champion Tour which unfolds Wednesday (July 18) at Manila Southwoods.

Taiwanese Lee Hsin and Chen Min-Jou, the Nos. 2 and 3 players, respectively, in the current TLPGA Order of Merit ranking, and No. 9 Lin Tzu-chi, and Thais Saranporn Langkulgasettrin and Renuka Suksukont, winners of the first two Phl Ladies Masters, banner the star-studded field in the first of two $75,000 championships also serving as the 10th and 11th legs of the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.

LPGT leg winners Yupaporn Kawinpakorn, Onkanok Soisuwan, Wannasiri Sirisampant, Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang and Saruttaya Ngam-usawan from Thailand are also in the fold along with a horde of players from Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysian, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and the US, all gearing up for a two-week battle of shotmaking and putting at two of the country’s championship courses.

Recognizing the status of the LPGT as a key circuit to play in the region, the Taiwan LPGA has also made the next LPGT event at Tagaytay Midlands part of its circuit with Korean ace Lee Jeong-hwa, who swept the two ICTSI Champion Tour legs in 2016, joining the hunt for the top $15,000 purse in the 54-hole championship put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.

The Midlands stop will be held July 25-27.

While the local top guns, led by Symetra Tour veteran Princess Superal, TLPGA campaigner Pauline del Rosario and former three-time LPGT OOM winner Cyna Rodriguez, have vowed to go all out and protect their turf, the Thais and the Taiwanese are still tipped to lead the title chase with Supamas Sangchan also seeking a second TLPGA victory after topping the kickoff leg in the Hitachi Ladies Classic last January.

Taiwan amateur Hou Yu-chiang also sets out for another win after upstaging the pros in the TLPGA Ladies Open together with Langkulgasettrin, who ruled the EFG Hong Kong Ladies Open, both last May.

Other top TLPGA players expected to contend are Chen Cih-hui, Ching Huang, Cheng Meng-chu, Lee Chia-pei, Huang Yu-ning, Chang Ching-ling and Chang Hsuan-ping.

Meanwhile, the Southwoods roster has swelled to 98, including 60 from the TLPGA with six amateurs, ensuring a stellar cast in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZGm PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.

The Legends course has also been spruced up to championship condition in time for the event with the par-72 layout expected to challenge the competing field with its bunkers that come into play in most holes and a sleek putting surface that could make or break one’s title bid.