FRESH from a resounding performance that helped the Philippines snap a 17-year drought in the Putra Cup last month, Rico Hoey is back on American soil to gun for a rare title repeat in the premier boys’ 15-17 division of the Junior World Golf Championship in San Diego, California.
The 17-year-old Hoey, whose Philippine homecoming helped the country regain Southeast Asia’s official team golf championship via an eye-popping 22-stroke win, is out to duplicate what very few have done at the formidable Torrey Pines layout starting Wednesday (Philippine time).
Hoey, an incoming freshman at University of Southern California, qualified for the event in the United States, where he has been based for the last 12 years. Now the holder of dual American and Philippine passports, Hoey starred for the PH campaign in the Putra Cup where he finished third overall in the individual race.
Meanwhile, the 38-strong PH contingent fielded by Jungolf Philippines gets going in the prestigious event in high spirits after three players snared titles in the recent San Diego Junior Masters, the major warm-up to the Junior Worlds.
Sophia Ysabel Blanco was one of those who triumphed, winning the girls’ 9-10 division by a stroke over American Brianna Park at the St. Mark’s Golf Club last July 12.
Blanco birdied four of her last five holes in the first round for a 35 and then had three birdies and an eagle in the final round for a 32 and a total of 67 for the win. Two other Filipinos were in the field, Wei Fang Gao from Cebu, and Laia Barro who finished tied for 21st, a distant 20 strokes off the pace.
Rupert Zaragosa, the reigning Philippine national champion, is also in the premier boys’ field with Hoey and Gabriel Manotoc, even as Princess Superal takes a shot at the girls’ side of the tournament.
Zaragosa, who devastated the PH Am field at Sherwood Hills that also had Hoey, is also looking for a second championship in the Junior Worlds, having won the 13-14 division two years ago.
Superal is also coming off a win in the San Diego Junior Masters and is tipped as one of the leading contenders in her division after toughening up in several tournaments.
THE PHILIPPINE DELEGATION: CLASS A (Torrey Pines): Boys—Rupert Zaragosa, Raymart Tolentino, Gabriel Manotoc, AR Ramos; Girls—Princess Superal, Daniella Uy, Chanelle Avaricio, Felicia Medalla, Bianca Pagdanganan; CLASS B: Boys (Morgan Run Resort)—Kristoffer Arevalo, Ryan Monsalve, Wei Wei Gao, John Lester Lagman; Girls (Country Club of Rancho Bernardo)—Pauline del Rosario, Annika Cedo, Abby Arevalo, Loise Kaye Go; CLASS C: Boys (Sycuan Oak Glen)—Aidric Chan, Ira Alido, Marc Corrales; Girls (Rancho Bernardo Inn) Sofia Chabon, Bernice Olivarez-Ilas, Mikhaela Fortuna; CLASS D: Boys (Welk Resort-Fountains)—Jolo Magcalayo, Josh Jorge, Riggs Illescas, Jed Dy; Girls (Lomas Sta Fe Executive) Sophia Blanco, Laia Barro, Margarita Therese Lazatin; CLASS E: Boys (Oaks North Golf Course)—Sean Granada, Francis Lanuza, Miguel Roque; Girls (Sycuan-Pine Glen) Eagle Ace Superal, Burberry Zhang; CLASS F (Colina Park)—Vince Tiamsic, Andrew Chua, Rafael Ilas; Girls-Justine Cedo