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Posts Tagged ‘Philippine Amateur Golf Championship’

Today April 12 marks the opening round of the 2011 Philippine Amateur Golf Championship at the demanding Langer Course of the Riviera Golf Club.  80 top male amateurs and 40 top female amateurs not only from the Philippines but from our neighboring countries as well (Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia), including defending champions Clyde Mondilla and Irina Gabasa respectively, will compete for the distinction of being the Philippine Amateur Champion.  This edition of the Philippine Amateur though is significant for two reasons:  the first is this will be the first time the Philippine Amateur will be conducted as a stroke play event and second that the Philippine Amateur will now be afforded world ranking points by the R&A.

Much has been written about the change in format of the Philippine Amateur championship from a match play event into a stroke play event.  Many decried the change in format as an insult to the long and honored tradition of the Philippine Amateur and of match play as the deciding factor as to who is truly the king amateur golfer of the year.  They cited the fact that the two most famous amateur championships in the world, the US Men’s Amateur and the British Amateur as well as other prominent amateur championships in the world uses match play.  If it ain’t broke why fix it they ask.

In response the National Golf Association of the Philippines responded that the change in format is meant to prepare our amateurs for the format of play of all other amateur championships in the region citing that the Philippine Amateur is the last match play event in Southeast Asia.  In fact event the Asian Amateur Championship (whose champion gets an automatic invite to the Masters in Augusta Georgia) is also conducted in a stroke play format.  NGAP Board member member Jun Arceo further explained that with the change of format to stroke play the NGAP is able to attract the participation of the top amateurs of our neighbors.  The problem with match play is that one unfortunate day for a participant may mean that his play is prematurely cut short.  in stroke play these top amateurs will have a chance to make up for any bad round thus making their participation more attractive.  Why, one may ask is their (foreigners) participation so important since this is a Philippine Amateur anyway?  Well, as explained by Arceo, their participation allows the the Philippine Amateur to be afforded R&A Official ranking points.  This means that the participants, both foreign and local, will be given the chance to earn those much needed ranking points, which in turn will entrench them into the consciousness of the world governing amateur bodies.  The change of format is then meant to open up the world to our players.   This is the most significant and important point lost in the heated discussion of the change in format.

If the change in format is therefore meant to give our players more opportunities in the world stage then let us support this change rather than reject it.  This will allow our players to not only be big fishes in our small pond but to be fighting fishes in a much bigger pond.  Also, world rankings may open up doors for them in major colleges and universities all over the world, thus allowing them to even broaden their growth and education.  Presently, only 3 Filipinos are in the top 1000 of the world amateur golf rankings:  Jobim Carlos (284), Judson Eustaquio (781) and Marcel Puyat (820).  Defending Amateur Champion Clyde Mondilla is the 5th ranked Filipino at 1460.  (Source: http://www.randa.org/en/WAGR/Ranking/Mens%20Ranking.aspx?sort=this&direction=asc&page=1&country=PHI&countryname=Philippines&region)  Hopefully , with a good showing in this event, their rankings will rise.   So let us embrace change where change is good.  This is good.

In any event plans are afoot for the conduct of a match play Philippine Amateur in Wack Wack sometime in the future though this will be reserved only for Filipinos.

At the end of 4 rounds we will crown a new Philippine Amateur champion.  He will bear the distinction of being our amateur champion for a year and join the ranks of Frankie Minoza, Artemio Murakami, Juvic Pagunsan, Angelo Que and alike.  But just as important, he will be the  first Philippine Amateur Champion to gain world ranking points.  In the long run that may prove quite distinctive and significant.

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