LGPA stars compete in 17th Annual CM Pro-Am at Journey at Pechanga

Thirty LPGA golfers took part in the 17th staging of the Character Media Pro-Am at Journey at Pechanga.

SOME thirty professional golfers from the different echelons of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LGPA) competed at the 17th Annual CM Pro-Am held at the beautiful Journey at Pechanga golf course in Temecula, California on April 9, 2024.

Prominent golfers, including Ashley Lau (234th in Rolex Ranking as of March 25, 2024), Robyn Choi (284th in Rolex Ranking), college standout and now professional golfer Jennifer Chang, Soo Bin Joo (376th in Rolex Ranking) and 2014 Asian Games silver medalist Ssu-Chia Cheng (390th in Rolex Ranking), were on hand to compete for the Pro-Am cup and other prizes.

Professional golfers (from left) Tisha Alyn, Greta Voelker and Abegail Arevalo spoke to media about the sport and the pro-am event.

Joining Lau, Choi, Chang, Joo and Cheng were other LPGA stars like Abegail Arevalo, Amelia Garvey, Amy Lee, Annika Borrelli, Brianna Do, Gabriella Then, Gigi Stoll, Greta Voelker, ILHee Lee, Jenny Rosenberg, Jillian Hollis, Kaley In, Karen Chung, Louise Ridderström, Malia Nam, Min-G Kim, Mo Martin, Olivia Schmidt, Rebecca Lee-Bentham, Jenny Coleman, Savannah Grewal, Selena Costabile, Sydnee Michaels, Tisha Alyn, and Vicky Hurst.

The event started with the long-drive competition, pairing an LPGA star with a local golfer before groups of foursomes took to the course.

A female golfer takes a big cut at the ball during the long drive competition.

Brianna Do was the big winner in this year’s CM Pro-Am, taking home three awards – her foursome won the tournament, she and partner Josh Levitt bagged the longest drive competition with a combined score of 556 yards, and Do also made a Hole-in-One.

Pechanga Resort Casino executives led by Pechanga Development Corporation 2nd Vice President John Palinkas, Pechanga Resort Casino General Manager Tjeerd Brink and Pechanga Resort Casino Chief Marketing Officer Bill Anderson pose with the professional golfers from the LPGA ranks. Photos by Joseph L. Peralta/AJPress

In between the longest drive challenge and golf pro-am, Pechanga Resort Casino executives, led by Pechanga Development Corporation 2nd Vice President John Palinkas, Pechanga Resort Casino General Manager Tjeerd Brink and Pechanga Resort Casino Chief Marketing Officer Bill Anderson, had the opportunity to speak to media and those present, and welcome the LPGA golfers and sponsors who took the time to participate in the event. Palinkas, Brink and Anderson were also joined by Journey at Pechanga Director of Golf Scott Mallory, Director of Sales & Catering Sutisa Spellman, Vice President of Hotel Operations Thomas Mueller, Character Media Publisher James Ryu and SC Global Enterprise and iGraphix Advertising CEO/President Wade Lai.

In an interview with Filipino media, LPGA golfers Abegail Arevalo, Tisha Alyn and Greta Voelker all expressed enthusiasm with the pro-am event. Alyn and Voelker have participated in the event for a few years, while this was Arevalo’s first time to join the CM Pro-Am.

Greta Voelker, who is from Germany, expressed delight at how the LPGA has become a home to many international players, which she started to see when she came to the United States and competed for her college.

The CM Pro-Am, although it may seem as a more relaxed event, still fires up the competitive juices of the golfers, Voelker told the Asian Journal. She includes it in her schedule when she makes it at the start of the year. “I love this event so much so it’s always on my schedule,” she said. “It’s a perfect time… you finish on a Sunday, come here on a Monday and the pro-am is on Tuesday. Afterwards, you can leave for the next tournament, so it fits perfectly.”

Filipina Abegail Arevalo, who is currently playing on the Epson Tour, dreams of getting into the main tour in the LPGA. Originally from Parañaque, Arevalo learned the sport from her father when she was five years old. Her dad was a caddie in Intramuros, Manila, and it was through golf that her dad earned his opportunities to establish a business and make a living. In turn, he encouraged family members to take up the sport.

Abegail is a San Jose State University alumna where she majored in Psychology and minored in Human Systems Integration. She currently lives in San Francisco, CA.

Arevalo has represented the Philippines, notably winning gold as part of the country’s team in the Southeast Asian Games in 2019. It is one of Abegail’s top goals to be able to represent the country in the Olympics someday.

According to Arevalo, the best part of her game is her mental game. “It’s not common for people to say that, but I’m okay with driving, I’m okay with putting and chipping… but at the end of the day, it’s such a mental sport, and I think that’s really my strength… And I work with a mental coach, too. It’s my favorite thing to talk about… I’m proud of my mental work.”

This being her first year at the pro-am, Arevalo stated that looks forward to playing the course at Journey at Pechanga, which she described as beautiful and spectacular.

As for her advice to young golfers, Abegail stated: “Follow your dreams, and dream big!”

For Fil-Am Tisha Alyn, who has hung up her clubs professionally, the event is a time for her to reunite with fellow golfers, catch up with sponsors and just enjoy herself.

Alyn is a multi-hyphenate nowadays, as she caters to her clients’ needs – she can be a model, broadcaster, trick shot artist, speaker, fitness trainer or content creator, among other things. “It’s like golf entertainment in a different way,” she told the Asian Journal.

Asked about preparations or training that young, aspiring kababayan golfers can include in their regimen as they shore up their games, Tisha responded: “I think that one thing about golf that’s different from other sports is that it takes a lot of time. It’s not as strenuous as other sports like football or soccer… as long as you can take the sun, you can go out there and train.”

Alyn added that you can train up to 8 hours a day. When she was playing professionally, she would hit golf balls for two hours, practice putting and short game for an hour, and go play which takes about four hours or so. Then she would go back and do some more putting, and work out and eat meals in between. It also helps to have a team behind you, which may include mentors, a swing coach, a mental coach, a physio, a physical trainer, an agent and a public relations team.

“If you think that you’re doing enough, there’s someone out there doing one step more. If you can push yourself, give it all you’ve got because there’s someone out there who wants it just as bad or more than you,” she added.

The Asian Journal also had a brief opportunity to catch up with a member of Pechanga’s executive casino host Filipino team.

Executive casino hosts were on hand to assist media and the players during the event. Photo above shows (from left) Filipino senior executive casino host Vhergie Bermejo, Assistant Director of Asian Marketing Anna Tran, Korean executive casino host Cecilia Vadeboncoeur, Thai executive casino host Jen DeSanti, Chinese executive casino host Gabriel Tang and Vietnamese senior executive casino host Khai Tran.

Senior executive casino host Vhergie Bermejo, who has worked at Pechanga for 20 years, revealed that she is very happy doing her job and lauded the support that the entire company, including management and the tribal leadership, extends to employees like her. “This has been my longest employment,” she said, “and I think I would retire here.”

Bermejo revealed that Filipino Americans are among the highest-tenured employees at Pechanga Resort Casino and she believes that it is a great opportunity for her fellow kababayans to join the team in the resort-casino.

“We’re closer than [Las] Vegas and it’s a very friendly environment… pang-pamilya (caters to families), I would say. We have everything… concerts, the spa, our beautiful golf course, the hotel, the pool area, dining… we have a lot to offer and are continually developing,” she answered when asked what makes Pechanga a good place to visit.

Bermejo added that Pechanga has catered many activities to the Filipino community, including bringing in celebrated Filipino singers and performers to hold shows at the property’s concert venue. With regard to the pro-am, Vhergie hopes that more Filipina golfers will participate in the event in the future, owing to the explosion of the sport internationally.

As every year shows, the CM Pro-Am Golf Tournament celebrates the camaraderie and sportsmanship among professional golfers, sponsors, the Pechanga Resort Casino team and attendees. It is one of the annual memorable events that players and golf enthusiasts look forward to when springtime comes to Temecula.

[Journey at Pechanga championship golf course, one of the many high-end amenities at Pechanga Resort Casino, is consistently rated among the top public courses in California. When golfers partner their rounds with a luxury stay at the adjacent resort, the value of the experience rises. Visit Pechanga.com or call (877) 711-2946 to for more information or to book your next stay at Pechanga Resort Casino.]

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