Young golfers Francesca Nicole and Stephanie Joy Gaisano Gan clinched spots in the IMG Academy Junior World Championship following their impressive performances in the Philippine qualifiers held recently in Cavite.
The 11-year-old Nicole ruled the 11-12 girls division with a three-day total of 261 following rounds of 85-86-90, winning the title by two strokes over Tashanah Niña Balangauan, who finished with a 263 at the Eagle Ridge.
Lois Laine Go (283) and Isabella Alanis Tabanas (284) joined the two in their bracket as the top four finishers from each age group earned slots in the Junior World Championship set July 10 to 14 in San Diego, California.
This is the fourth time that Gan clinched a berth in the junngolf world tournament, the last was during her title run in the 9-10 girls qualifiers in 2019 at the Intramuros Golf and Country Club in Manila.
As for the four-year-old Stephanie, she is the youngest to qualify this year for the Philippines when she finished second in the 6-under after she bounced back with a 70-74 during the last two days of the qualifiers following an opening day of 91 at Riviera.
She finished with a total of 235 behind champion Kamilla Edriana del Mundo at 213 after rounds of 66-71-76 in the qualifiers organized by the Junior Golf Foundation of the Philippines (JGFP).
“I’m proud of what they’ve accomplished. At a young age Nicole and Stephanie will be representing our country on the world stage,” said Oliver Gan, himself a former Philippine jungolf champion who currently serves as a consultant at the Games and Amusements Board (GAB).
“For me too, I’m just happy to see that our young golfers are finally back playing in a tournament because other countries have been doing events in the previous months,” added Gan, whose daughters are under the tutelage of former LPGA champion Jennifer Rosales.
Before going to the world event, Han Gaisano Gan said that her two kids are scheduled to compete in Thailand following an invitation from the Thailand Golf Association (TGA), saying: “That’s our next stop before going to San Diego.”
Other qualifiers in the boys division are Sooreen Lee, Rafael Lucas de Guzman and Kenzo Gavin Tan in the 6-under; Ryuji Suzuki, Mico Deltheo Woo and Raiden Jmari Valle in 7-8; Ralph Rian Batican, Race Phoenix Manhit, Jared Saban and Jose Jacobo Gomez in 9-10; Geoffrey Drew Tan, Marc Kristoffer Nadales, Scott Nicholas Ng and Emilio Hernandez in 11-12; Shinichi Suzuki, Patrick Gene Tambalque, Luis Ballesteros and Zach Villaroman in 13-14; Jet Hernandez, Miguel Armando Ilas IV, Sean Dominique Granada and Bobe Salahog in 15-18.
In the girls category, the qualifiers are Maria Brianna Macasaet, Venus delos Santos and Kelly Robyn Ng in 7-8; Johanna Blair Uyking, Brittany Pauline Tamayo, Margaux Namoco and Jacqiline Ellouise Audrey Garcia in 9-10; Reese Allyson Ng, Lia Gabrielle Rosca, Mikhaella Constantino and Celine Abalos in 13-14; Ma. Rafaela Singson, Arnie Pauline Taguines, Sunshine Burberry Zhang and Eagle Ace Superal in 15-18.