Published on page A23 of the December 21, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
BEN Arda, the foremost Filipino pro in the ?60s and ?70s, passed away yesterday due to a lingering illness. He was 77.
A former caddy at the Cebu Country Club, the 5-foot-5 Arda emerged from the shadow of six-time Philippine Open champion Celestino Tugot to become the king of Philippine fairways as the mighty Bantam Ben.
He won the Philippine Open three times (1961, 1963 and 1979) and went on to become Asia?s top parbuster by capturing the Asian Golf Circuit championship, now known as the Asian Tour?s Order of Merit, in 1970.
He was the first Filipino to qualify for the US Masters and British Open and played with American stars Billy Casper and Gene Littler in the Manila Golf Club leg of Shell?s Wonderful World of Golf series in 1969.
A veteran of many World Cup campaigns, Arda and Tugot were inducted by the Philippine Sportswriters Association to its Hall of Fame on Jan. 9, 2004.
After his retirement, Arda became a much-sought teaching pro until a stroke interrupted his new calling. But he recovered and resumed giving golf lessons before he became a regular teacher at the Alabang Country Club driving range.
Alabang golf course manager Caloy Coscolluela said yesterday that Arda suffered another attack on his way to the driving range Tuesday morning and died at the Ayala Alabang clinic. His body lies in state at the Holy Trinity Chapel in Alabang. Interment details will be announced later.