Fil-Am Demi Runas braces for a spirited battle for top honors against the cream of the local pro crop and the best from the Taiwan LPGA Tour in the $80,000 ICTSI Philippine Ladies Masters which fires off Wednesday at the Alabang Country Club in Muntinlupa.
Runas, a former LPGA Tour campaigner, is making her first stint on the local circuit with the 24-year-old shotmaker, who was born and raised in the US and traces her roots to La Union and Cavite, gunning for no less than a crown in the 54-hole championship serving as the final leg of the Taiwan LPGA Tour and the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour.
“Being a former LPGA Tour campaigner, she’s good. But the field is tough with so many strong players, especially from the Taiwan LPGA Tour,” said The Country Club coach Bong Lopez, who handles a slew of players vying in the event sponsored by ICTSI and co-organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and TLPGA.
The 5-6 Runas rallied from No. 15 to No. 9 with a strong finish in the last tournament of the Symetra Tour to earn an LPGA card for 2015 although it was not the rookie season she had wanted it to be, she still hoped her struggles would help her toughen up in future tournaments.
That includes this week’s event where she will be pitted against the likes of Korean Lee Jeong Hwa, who swept the first two legs of the Taiwan LPGA and ICTSI LPGT at Splendido and Southwoods last March, along with current TLPGA Order of Merit frontrunner Lin Tzu-chi and veteran Thai campaigners and former LPGT winners Wannasiri Sirisampant Wannasiri Sirisampant, Saruttaya Ngam-usawan and Amolkan Phalajivin.
Dottie Ardina, who regained her LPGA Tour card with a strong finish in the recent LPGA Qualifying Final Stage, will banner the local challenge along with Princess Superal, Mia Piccio and Cyna Rodriguez, who like Runas, will be campaigning in next year’s Symetra Tour after falling short in the LPGA Q-School.
Meanwhile, the leading pros test the Alabang layout in today’s (Tuesday) pro-am where they will be paired with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Sharp, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Champion, TaylorMade, Ping, Yamaha and Pacsports.
Out to spoil the pros’ title bid is a bunch of amateurs, led by reigning World Junior Girls’ individual gold medalist Yuka Saso, national champion Harmie Constantino, who is also a member of that World Junior Girls champion squad and winner of the LPGT ICTSI Malarayat Ladies Classic last July, and Korean teener Hwang Min Jeong, who also beat the pros to win at Malarayat last year.
Pauline del Rosario is also tipped to contend for the championship, coming off a three-title run, including two in Malaysia and Singapore, along with TCC teammates Mikha Fortuna, Abegail Arevalo and Sam Martirez and Annika Guangko Isabela Miravite and Marvi Monsalve.
Also seeing action in the tournament are regular campaigners Saraporn Chamchoi, Walailak Satarak, Supakchaya Pattaranakrueang, Piyathida Ployumsri, Chatprapa Siriprakob, Chonticha Tonkaew and Kanpahnitnan Muangkhumsakul of Thailand, Indonesian Jessica Lydia, Korean Euna Koh and Canadian Kimberly Risulmi.