Tough title defense for Nagai

CEBU’S Gen Nagai braces for another tough challenge against a stellar international field but remains upbeat about scoring a repeat in the National Stroke Play Championship, which gets under way on Jan. 7, 2020 at Riviera’s Langer course in Silang, Cavite.

Nagai beat Thai Youth Olympics gold medalist Vanchai Luangnitikul in sudden death to claim the men’s crown last year with the Cebu-based Japanese gearing up for another grueling duel of power and mental toughness at the exacting par-71 layout in pursuit of a back-to-back title feat in the country’s premier amateur championship.

Heading the crack roster of challengers for the Seton Hall University graduate are the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games bronze medal team members Aidric Chan, Carl Corpus and Sean Ramos along with recent National Doubles winner Ryan Monsalve and Seton Hall U sophomore Peter Tyler Po, who also hails from talent-rich Cebu.

Others tipped to contend in the 72-hole tournament sponsored by the MVP Sports Foundation are Leandro Bagtas, Aldo Barro, Paolo Barro, Elee Bisera, Dan Cruz, Weiwei Gao, Miguel Ilas, Gabby Macalaguim, Don Petil, Jacob Rolida and Paolo Wong.

Spicing up the cast are Finland’s Sean Avellan, Koreans Heasick Cho, Hur Jun Ha, Jun Byung Cho, David Jung, Kim Tae Soo and Lee Sang Min, Arnold Lee Jr. from Hong Kong, Japanese Tomo Kagawa, Takuma Sato and Mayuto Shiozuka and Marcus Lim from Malaysia.

Nagai survived a second round score of 81 with 74 and a gutsy 71 in the last two days then nipped the fancied Thai in a three-man sudden death that included Singapore’s Lucius Toh to snare the crown in the kickoff leg of the PLDT Group National Amateur Golf Tour.

But the locals, headed by Chan, Corpus and Ramos, are going all out to foil Nagai’s repeat bid along with the rest of the early 61-player cast that includes some of the country’s young and rising players led by Josh Jorge and Jed Dy. (RSC from PR)