PH golden golfers donate over P16M incentives to NGAP golf dev’t program
The chance to represent the country in future tournaments and pursue their golfing dreams in the US NCAA was worth a whole lot more than P16 million.
That was the cost for Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and LK Go had to give up to retain their amateur status as the country’s golf heroines donated all their incentives for their two-gold, one-bronze performance in the Asian Games to the National Golf Association of the Philippines’ golf development program Thursday, the same day President Duterte bumped up the bounty for Asiad champions to a total of P8 million.
“Due to immutable circumstances … we are unable to accept any and all forms of financial reward,” the trio said in a joint statement forwarded to media outlets Thursday. “At present, two of us are actively playing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States, with the third, soon to follow.
“We will automatically lose our amateur status the moment we keep these incentives, as well as the opportunity to continue representing the Philippines in the future.”
The three were supposed to receive at least P16.5 million in total, with Saso, the individual gold winner, due to receive P10.6 million.
President Duterte threw in another extra P2 million for gold medalists in the Asian Games during the release of incentives Wednesday at Malacañang Palace, according to the Philippine Sports Commission.
The PSC had announced earlier that the bonus from the President would be worth P1 million but Mr. Duterte upped it by another million.
The cash pot is on top of the P2 million granted by law via Republic Act 10699. Gold medalists will also get P1 million each from Siklab Foundation of Sec. Dennis Uy and Ambassador to Indonesia H.E. Lee Hiong Tan Wee, plus a P2 million bonus from the POC.
“We were touched by the decision of the girls to donate their cash incentives to our golf development program,” said Bones Floro, the NGAP’s secretary-general, who also told golfers and their parents of the legal opinion sent by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews regarding the impact of the incentives on the girls’ amateur status.
“The girls and their parents were very appreciative of the situation and they knew what they wanted and it wasn’t a hard decision for them to make,” Floro added.
The Inquirer managed to obtain a copy of the Royal and Ancient’s opinion, where it said cash awards offered as incentives are based on performance and thus fall under the rules on prizes.
Thus, if the players kept their incentives, they would lose their amateur status and make them ineligible for the national team and in the US NCAA.
“We unanimously agreed that if it were possible to donate this money to support the national golf program—and thus help other aspiring golfers reach their goals—this would be the best scenario for us. After consulting the world golf governing body, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, we were advised that this was a viable option. We are thus confident that the [NGAP] will allocate these resources in a prudent, equitable, and ideal manner, consistent with our intentions,” the three golfers wrote in their joint statement.
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