Jacob Rolida outlasted rising female star Sofia Chabon down the stretch to claim victory in the 11th edition of the Faldo Series Philippines Championship.
Rolida fired an admirable closing one-over-par 73 over the Faldo Course at Eagle Ridge Golf and Country Club in the 11th leg of the 2018-19 Faldo Series Asia season to overhaul Chabon.
With a 54-hole aggregate of 236, Rolida topped the standings in the Boys’ Under-18 category and also edged out Girls’ Under-18 champion Chabon for the overall title in The R&A World Amateur Golf Ranking event.
Following rounds of 82 and 81 in testing conditions, Rolida headed into the final day three strokes off the lead in third position, behind Kwon Min-seo and Chabon (162).
With six holes remaining at the Faldo Design venue, located about 50 kilometres from the business district of Makati, it had turned into a two-way battle between Rolida and Chabon.
With tension mounting and nerves starting to jangle, Chabon ran-up four successive bogeys from the 13th to leave the door ajar for Rolida, runner-up in the Boys’ Under-16 segment last year.
Grasping the opportunity, Rolida drew level after 15 before surging two shots clear with a birdie at the par-four 16th. Pars at the final two holes were good enough to see him home.
Rolida’s reward is a ticket to the 13th Faldo Series Asia Grand Final to be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo at Laguna Lăng Cô in Danang, Central Vietnam in March, 2019.
Also qualifying were Alfonso Barro (Boys’ Under-21), Miguel Ilas (Boys’ Under-16), Kang Da-yun (Girls’ Under-16) and Chabon.
Among those who missed out was Laia Barro, who was bidding to complete a hat-trick of successes in the Girls’ Under-16 division. However, Barro never recovered from an opening 87 which included three double-bogeys and a seven at the par-four 10th, which proved her nemesis. For the three rounds, she was eight-over on that hole alone.
Organised by the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines (JGFP), a non-profit organisation dedicated to the growth and development of golf in the country, this year’s Faldo Series Philippines Championship included divisions for boys and girls aged between nine and 11.
Living up to the JGFP’s stated mission of ‘providing junior golfers of all abilities with a competitive and fun environment that not only develops golf skills, but also positively builds their character’, Gabie Rosca, Celine Abalos and Rafael Leonio all caught the eye.
The 2018-19 Faldo Series Asia season is supported by The R&A and endorsed by the Asian Tour and the Asia Pacific Golf Confederation. The International Junior Golf Academy is a partner of the Faldo Series.
As well as two events in China, India and Thailand, championships are being staged in Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chinese-Taipei, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.
Recognised as the only global amateur series for boys and girls, the Faldo Series was established in 1996, expanding to Asia in 2006.
Today, 40 Faldo Series tournaments take place in 30-plus countries worldwide, touching more than 7,000 golfers each year. Past champions include Tseng Ya-ni and Rory McIlroy, both multiple Major winners, while Thidapa Suwannapura (2010 Faldo Series Asia Grand Final Girls’ champion) and Nasa Hataoka (2016 Faldo Series Asia Grand Final Girls’ champion) have both won on the LPGA Tour this year.