Preparations begin in earnest as the International University Sports Federation (FISU) gave its stamp of approval to the Pradera Verde Golf and Country Club in Lubao, Pampanga as the host site of the 17th World University Golf Championship (WUGC) to be organized by the Federation of School Sports Association of the Philippines (FESSAP) from May 16 to 19 next year.
Dominic Wall, FISU’s Technical Director for Golf, made an ocular inspection of the newly-constructed 18-hole golf course situated in Barangay Prado Siongco in Lubao on May 17.
Wall was accompanied by FISU’s Paulo Ferreira during the visit and, together with the Mayor of Lubao Maylene Cayabyab, Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda and her husband Rodolfo (Bong) Pineda, WUGC Organizing Committee Chair Marius Aseron and FESSAP president David Ong, inspected the world-class 18-hole golf course located north of Metro Manila.
Photo Caption: Executive Members of the 17th WUGC Organizing Committee from left to right: Emmanuel Edward Co, WUIGC OC Chair Marius Aseron, FESSAP president David Ong, Mayor Maylene Cayabyab, FISU’s Paulo Ferreira and Dominic Wall, WUGC Godfather’s Rodolfo (Bong) Pineda and Governor Lilia Pineda of Pampanga.
“I am quite impressed by this beautifully-designed golf course,” said the Australian-born Wall, who now resides in Singapore. “Expectations are high that the prominent university golfers from around the world will take part in this world competition to be showcased by the host country and FESSAP.”
According to David Ong, the Pradera Golf Course, which is less than a year old, has metamorphosed into a prime destination for Filipino golfers from North and Central Luzon and the biennial World University Golf Championship is one avenue for the world’s best golfers to pit their skills as well as explore one of the country’s scenic tourist spots.
“This international event will not only promote golf as a sport for the younger generation of Filipino athletes but also boost tourism in our country.”
The 400-hectare Pradera Verde tourism estate is around five minutes away from the Dinalupihan exit of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway. The golf course, which will soon expand to 36 holes, itself sits on a 150-hectare area of the estate.
Members of the FESSAP Marketing Team have been working at full force to pull off the most ambitious project by the organization, which is the solely university sports federation in the Philippines that has been recognized since 2009 as a regular member of the FISU, which sanctions the Summer Universiade, Winter Universiade and the World University Championship in the various sports.
The local marketing group is a joint partnership between FESSAP’s WUGC Organizing Committee and Pradera Verde Marketing Group.
To some of the local golfers who have checked out the Pradera Verde Golf Course, the latter may seem “like a flat course from a distance but it has slopping long fairways with big undulating and challenging greens.”
An 18-hole exhibition match between American Dustin Johnson, the US Open titlist and world’s No. 2 golfer at the time, and world third-ranked Rory McIlroy was staged in Pradera Verde Golf Course in November last year.
The 17th World University Golf Championship to be hosted by the Philippines and FESSAP comes after the successful staging of the competitions at the Planchetorte golf course in Brive, France from June 23-26 in 2016.
Nearly 80 male and female student golfers took part in the tournament.
The top three finishers in the women’s division all came from the Czech Republic. Karolina Vlckova was the runaway gold medal winner with a nine-point advantage. Her compatriots Marie Lunackova and Koterina Vlasinova settled for the silver and bronze, respectively.
In men’s division, Robin Dawson of the Republic of Ireland topped the field with a two-point edge over China’s Xuewem Luo, the silver medalist. Chinese-Taipei’s Yu-chen Yeh romped away with the bronze.
In the team competitions, host France ruled the men’s division with Republic of Ireland and Chinese-Taipei ranking second and third, respectively.
The Czech Republic snared the top spot in the women’s division followed by Chinese-Taipei and United States.
By: Graham C. Lim