Fiery duels up as Stroke Play tees off

    GO: Setting sights on another crown.
    GO: Setting sights on another crown.

    THE National Stroke Play Championship gets going today with Japanese Gen Nagai and Cebuana Lois Kaye Go ready to take on crack rivals in pursuit of back-to-back championships at Riviera’s Langer course in Silang, Cavite.

    Nagai, who nipped Thai Youth Olympics gold medalist Vanchai Luangnitikul Thai in sudden death to clinch the men’s crown last year, braces for a tough start as he drew SEA Games veteran Sean Ramos, Don Petil and Jeff Jung in the 7:40 a.m. flight on No. 1, while Go, who shocked Bianca Pagdanganan and Thai ace Atthaya Thitikul to snare the 2019 crown, launches her drive at the back at 8:30 a.m. with Koreans Jane Jeong and Kwon Tae Yon and Tomi Arejola.

    A slew of explosive pairings highlight the opening of the 72-hole tournament kicking off the new PLDT Amateur Golf Tour season with Junior World titlist Aidric Chan slugging it out with Finland’s Sean Avellan, Korean David Jung and Ronel Tagaan at 8 a.m. after the 7:50 a.m. group of national team mainstay Carl Corpus, Aldo Barro, Jhondie Quibol and Korean Kim Tae Soo, winner of the MVPSF Amateur crown at Riviera last November.

    Other top groupings in the event organized and conducted by the National Golf Association of the Philippines include Josh Jorge, Miguel Ilas, Perry Bucay and Lee Seung Hoon of Korea at 8:20 a.m.; Paolo Wong, Gab Manotoc, Christopher Popp and Japanese Kai Yasuma at 8:50 a.m.; and newly crowned National Doubles titlist Ryan Monsalve, Korean Lee Sang Min, Peter Tyler Po and Japanese Ryuya Yamashita at 7:20 a.m. on No. 10.

    Keen competition is also seen in the women’s side of the event sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation and backed by Cignal, Metro Pacific Investments and Summit Ridge as official hotel with Abby Arevalo facing off with Laia Barro, Sophia Blanco and Korean Park Hyun Jo at 8 a.m.; Bernice Ilas, Samantha Dizon and Koreans Kim Sook and Kim Seo Yun, winner of the MVPSF trophy last year, at 8:10 a.m.; and Eagle Ace Superal, Diana Araneta, Laurea Duque and Korean Bang Hee Yeon at 7:50 a.m.

    Focus will also be on Junia Gabasa, the reigning WExpress RVF Cup and MVPSF Visayas regional titlist, Hong Kong’s Vivian Lee, Cangolf Open champion Nicole Abelar and Japanese Riko Nagai, who will mix it up at 7:40 a.m.; and Sofia Chabon, Jody Castillo, Korean Kim Ye Rin and Rianne Malixi, winner of the 2019 Phl Amateur Open Stroke and Match Play and Northern Luzon Regional tournaments.