The US$80,000 tournament, a tri-sanctioned 54-hole event with the Ladies Philippine Golf Tour (LPGT) and the LPGA of Taiwan (TLPGA), is being staged at The Country Club, a 6,303-yard, par-72, Tom Weiskopf-designed venue in Laguna province about 50 kilometres from the capital of Manila.
The China LPGA Tour has previously co-sanctioned events in Australia, Taiwan and Thailand. Jennifer Lee, China LPGA Tour Managing Director, said it made sense to add the Philippines to that list.
She said: “The players like to go abroad with the China LPGA Tour and this fits in with China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative to expand the national market in Southeast Asia.
“The LPGT was sincere in inviting the CLPGA Tour to be one of the sanctioning bodies of this tournament and we have brought along our compatriots from Chinese Taipei as well. Through this co-operation, the LPGT players can earn Rolex World Ranking points and compete against a strong line-up. This is just the beginning.”
The ICTSI Philippine Ladies Masters is the penultimate event of the year for both the China LPGA Tour and the LPGT, a five-year-old circuit that is staging 11 tournaments in 2017.
Colo Ventosa, General Manager of organiser Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, said the fledging circuit has been growing steadily since its 2013 launch when six events were held. This season concludes with the ICTSI South Forbes Ladies Invitational (December 19-21).
She said: “We’re very happy with how our Tour has grown, in terms of tournaments and players as well. It is our goal to help our lady pros and amateurs hone their skills on our circuit to prepare them to compete in other Tours abroad. The presence of the CLPGA and TLPGA players will surely raise the level of play here.”
A total of 99 players from 11 nations are competing this week. The field includes 47 CLPGA members, 30 from the TLPGA and 22 from the LPGT.
Among those to watch is Pauline Del Rosario, an 18-year-old rookie pro who has won four of the last six legs on the LPGT, and Yuka Saso, the big-hitting amateur who led the Philippines to the World Junior Girls team title last year in Canada.
Other homegrown hopefuls include Princess Superal and Cyna Rodriguez who have played Stateside this year on the Symetra Tour.
The CLPGA contingent includes 12 mainland Chinese players, among them seven national team members, Michelle Koh of Malaysia and a strong group of Thais who have dominated in China this year.