Philippine golf has been pinging on the radar recently. Whether it’s at the Olympics or the PGA and LPGA Tours, we’ve been seeing more of our country’s players on major international courses in the last ten years. And not just in terms of appearances, but with medals and titles to show for it.
Against other countries in Asia, the Philippines has been a mainstay on the podium in two major multi-sport events: the Southeast Asian Games and the Asian Games. In both competitions, our country’s athletes have made it to the podium on nearly all occasions, even beyond the last ten years.
Ever since 2005, our country’s golfers have finished in the top three in every SEA Games edition except for one. In 2015, we missed out on a podium finish just barely, our men’s team finishing in fourth.
Similarly, from 1998 to 2018, the Philippines was also a consistent presence on the podium in the Asian Games. Our athletes made it onto the podium each time except in 2014. That year, our best finish was the women’s team in fifth place.
While our flag has been represented on the podium across Asian tournaments, we’re still working on achieving this consistency in other professional events too. But truthfully, it may take some time. In major events such as the Asian Tours, wins for our golfers have come few and far in between.
But more recently, some of our athletes have become more competitive. In fact, some have even made history.
Filipinos up to par
We’ve seen several successful Filipino golfers in our history, but Miguel Tabuena is one who has planted his name in our history. In the 2016 Rio Olympics, he became the first Filipino athlete to compete in golf at the Olympic level. Given that Olympic qualification is based upon a player’s ranking among all the players in the world, you’ll understand why this was a huge feat.
On top of this, he also has two major professional wins. As part of the Asian tour, he won the 2015 Philippine Open and the 2018 Queen’s Cup.
Another history-maker whose name you’ll most likely recognize is Yuka Saso. She has represented the Philippines on many occasions, but most notably, she did so at the U.S. Women’s Open.
The U.S. Women’s Open is one of the most highly-esteemed golfing tournaments in the world. And currently, Yuka Saso is the reigning champion. In 2021, she became the first Filipino to win the tournament.
Although Yuka now represents Japan, the future remains bright—especially with athletes like Bianca Pagdanganan. She has represented the Philippines in multiple events already, competing in the 2020 Olympics and earning two Asian Games medals.
Having just debuted as a professional in 2020, she recorded two career top-10s. Plus, a fun fact about Bianca: The LPGA ranked her third for her average driving distance.
Ultimately, even though golf is one of the toughest sports to crack on an international level, our country has athletes up to face the tee.
The Philippines’ golf scene is starting to look more and more promising with the upticks in its growth lately. Now, the country has its own set of notable players to look out for.
Among them is Dottie Ardina. She may have gone pro a full nine years ago, but the great thing about golf is that you can peak at any point in your life, and Dottie seems to be on her way. Just last April, she earned her first U.S. win in the Copper Rock Championship after years of hard work on the course.
The Philippines has many young talents as well who have represented our country at major events. At the recent SEA Games, Lois Kaye Go, Rianne Malixi, and Maria Rafaela Singson won the bronze medal for the women’s team event.
After coming off of a bronze-medal finish at the SEA Games, the Philippines will now be looking to the Asian Games this September. Here, the Philippines will have a shot at winning back-to-back gold medals in the golf tournament.
With young hopefuls looking to lay even stronger foundations for golf in the Philippines, and with our people keeping their eyes peeled, things may start to heat up for the sport.