Symetra Tour campaigner Dottie Ardina returns to local golf tour as she headlines the cast in the P500,000 ICTSI Valley Golf Ladies Challenge which unwraps Tuesday at the Valley Golf Club in Antipolo.
Ardina won two legs in the inaugural staging of the ICTSI Ladies Philippine Golf Tour last year then tried her luck in the Symetra Tour in the US after falling short of her bid in the LPGA Tour. But the many-time spearhead of the national team has not had much success in Symetra, turning in just one top 10 finish at Eagle Classic in Virginia last August in 13 events.
But she is expected to contend for the top P100,000 purse in the penultimate leg of the eight-stage circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. this week where she will be reunited with her former teammates in the ICTSI golf stable.
Or she could receive a rude welcome from the compact field, led by Thai ace Amolkan Phalajivin, who ended Cyna Rodriguez’s domination with a three-stroke victory at ICTSI Splendido Ladies Invitational last month.
Still, Ardina’s presence will toughen up the field and the make the title chase doubly interesting with Phalajivin raring to make it two-in-row and Rodriguez out to redeem herself and nail her fifth victory in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Nike, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.
Ardina dominated the first two legs of the LPGT in 2013 at The Country Club and Canlubang before Rodriguez swept the next two legs after the former joined the LPGA qualifier. Amateur ace Princess Superal, however, humbled the pros and topped the final leg at John Hay in record fashion.
But with Ardina campaigning in the Symetra, Rodriguez stamped her class in this year’s LPGT, winning the first stage at Orchard then racking up three straight at John Hay, Mt. Malarayat and Eagle Ridge after skipping the second leg at Riviera won by Jayvie Agojo.
Phalajivin, however, spoiled her bid for a fourth straight crown at Splendido as the Thai ace put on a near-flawless 69 in the final round to win by three over Rodriguez in a victory that also erased the stigma of her 11- and 10-shot setbacks to Rodriguez in Baguio and Batangas.
But with Ardina back in the hunt, a three-way fight looms although Agojo and Chihiro Ikeda and the rest of the cast are all itching to sneak into the title race and pull off a surprise or two.
Meanwhile, Sherwood Hills will host the final leg on Nov. 26-28 for the ICTSI Sherwood Ladies Championship.