CHIHIRO Ikeda is a lady on a mission that even after having a phenomenal 2009 season she's still burning with desire to stay on top of her game and rule the fairways in the Year of the Tiger.
A clear indication of the young and talented Filipina-Japanese shotmaker's ceaseless drive for excellence was that when she arrived in her hometown Davao City for the holidays, she was still hitting golf balls to sharpen her skills and prepare for the big battles ahead.
Foremost in Ikeda's radar this year are the 48th Philippine Ladies Open Amateur Golf Championship and the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China where she hopes to win another gold medal for her country.
"We are really eyeing the Asian Games gold," Ikeda told Sun.Star Davao in Filipino Monday at the clubhouse of the scenic Apo Golf and Country Club in Bago.
Tough words for the 18-year-old golfer considering the quality of competition in the Asian Games, but with her game improving each year and confidence building with each victory Ikeda knows she and her teammates have a shot at the gold medal.
The chubby Ikeda captured two golds for Team Philippines in the 25th Southeast Asian Games in Laos last year, topping the individual event then powering the RP squad to the team championship.
"It was really an amazing feeling," Ikeda recalls of her amazing SEA Games performance. "Seeing your teammates enjoying the victory makes you really happy."
Ikeda's teammates include Mia Piccio and Dottie Ardina.
The Southeast Asian (SEA) Games double kill actually capped an amazing year for Ikeda, who collected a total of eight wins here and abroad. Among her victories include the Mission Hills leg of the Future Collegians World Tour in the US, the Indonesia Amateur Open, the Hong Kong Open and the Kau Sai Chau Open, also in Hong Kong.
Ikeda said national coach Bong Lopez is now in the process of forming a formidable squad for the Asian Games to try to win the gold and follow up their SEA Games conquest.
The Davao golf wonder said after the Asian Games, she will turn professional as proposed by Lopez himself.
In order to do that, Ikeda has to go through a rigorous Ladies Professional Golf Association qualifier in September where she hopes to make the grade and join Jennifer Rosales and Fil-Am Dorothy Delasin in the LPGA Tour.
Then there's the Asian Games in November, where Ikeda is expected to nail a berth and got to play against the best in the quadrennial meet.
But before that, she has a number of local competitions a hand in 2010, starting off with the 448th Philippine Ladies Open Amateur Golf Championship, which tees off January 13 at the Legends Course of the Manila Southwoods Golf and Country Club in Carmona, Cavite.
Ikeda won the 2008 staging of the event after rallying from three shots down in the final round, but placed a dismal 10th in last year's edition.
This year, Ikeda vows to win back the title that belongs to her. She is scheduled to fly back to Manila today in preparation for the tournament.
Ikeda, a power hitter off the tee, will be leaving Davao City with fond memories after spending Christmas and New Year with her family, specifically her Japanese father Osamu to whom she had a round of golf Monday afternoon with Lopez and several other ICTSI mainstays.
Teeing off on hole No. 10, Ikeda drove her ball more than 200 yards out and into the middle of the fairway, the shot eliciting a smile and nod of approval from Lopez.
Ikeda is really that good.