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Tiebreaker Times


Princess Superal launches ‘back-to-back’ drive in As-Pac Cup

The second Simone Asia Pacific Cup unfolds on Thursday in Indonesia, with defending champion Princess Superal expecting a heightened level of competition despite the absence of major champions.

World No. 9 Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand and Japan’s Nasa Hataoka add a touch of star power to the 56-player roster.

Superal crafted a narrative of triumph, outshining luminaries like New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, Korean Hyo Joo Kim, and Japan’s Hinako Shibuno to claim her maiden pro championship worth $100,000 in last year’s inaugural event at the Pondok Indah Golf Course in Jakarta. She won by three strokes over former US Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu of Korea.

However, the 26-year-old Superal anticipates a more challenging competition this year, with Thailand and Korea fielding an impressive lineup of players eager to dominate both the individual and team championships. The 54-hole tournament, organized by the Asia Golf Leaders Forum to advance the development of women’s golf in the Asia Pacific region, offers not only a substantial total prize of $750,000 but also carries the allure of world ranking points.

The individual competition offers a total prize purse of $550,000, while the team event stakes a total pot of $200,000.

Superal, embracing the role of a key contender, has diligently prepared for the demanding battles ahead, flanked by a troika of equally talented compatriots – fellow ICTSI-backed Bianca Pagdanganan and Dottie Ardina, and Daniella Uy.

Pagdanganan, riding high on the momentum of reclaiming her LPGA Tour card, forms a dynamic partnership with Superal in team play, amplifying the Philippines’ prospects for success after Superal and Pauline del Rosario finished second to Ryu and Bo Mee Lee last year.

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Like Superal, the big-hitting Pagdanganan is also making a homecoming of sorts to Pondok Indah, where she won the individual bronze and helped lift the Philippines to the gold medal finish in the Asian Games in 2018.

Ardina and Uy will make up the other Philippine squad in the 16-nation event that extends beyond individual performances, with team dynamics also shaping the competitive landscape.

Meanwhile, Smart is facilitating live coverage of the event through its Smart Livestream app, available for free download on the Apple App Store or Google Play. No charges or subscriptions are required to enjoy the tournament, making it accessible to a wide audience of Filipino golf fans. The app will also offer a full stream and highlights via video-on-demand for those unable to catch the event live.

“Princess’s victory last year was a great moment for Philippine golf. We think there’s a good chance of another Pinay lifting the trophy this year, so we are making our coverage of this event accessible to a wide audience of Filipino golf fans,” said Jude Turcuato, the First VP/Head of Sports for PLDT and Smart.

For those unable to catch the Simone Asia Pacific Cup live, the Smart Livestream app will offer full stream and highlights via video-on-demand.

The Thai and Korean contingents, boasting a mix of seasoned campaigners and emerging stars, are tipped to add layers of intensity and drama to the competition.

Paul Park, sec-gen of the Asia Golf Leaders Forum, sees a spirited three-day clash of shotmaking and putting, mirroring the stirring triumph of Superal over a slew of heavyweights in the previous year.

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“I have no doubt that another great battle with plenty of dramas is on the cards this week,” he said.

Meanwhile, spearheading Korea’s title bid are Minyeol Kim, Heejeong Lim, Youmin Hwang, and top amateur Minsol Kim. Back-stopping Thitikul in the solid Thai roster are fellow LPGA campaigners Jaravee Boonchant, Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, and Chanettee Wannasaen. The Thai fold also includes Busabakorn Sukapan, Phannarai Meesom-us, and amateurs Suvichaya Vinijchaitham and Eila Galitsky, who dominated the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific Championship in Singapore last March.

Saki Baba, the 2022 US Women’s Amateur champion, is also out to contend, along with fellow Japanese Moeka Nishihata and Aihi Takano. The hosts will be led by Putri Amani, Inez Wannamarta, Patricia Sinolungan, Ida Putri, and amateurs Kristina Yoko and Elaine Widjaya.

Focus will also be on the Taiwanese sisters Vivian Hou and Yu Sang Hou, with LPGA campaigner Pei Yun Chien anchoring the team with Tsai Pei-Ying. The US will be represented by LPGA veteran Annie Park and LPGA rookie Gabriella Ruffels.

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