The ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour winds up its 2015 season with the P3.5 million ICTSI Tournament Players Championship beginning today at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Trece Martirez, Cavite with focus not only on the chase for the top P650,000 purse but also for Tour cards next year.
Only the top 40 players in the money list after the 15-leg tour will gain automatic playing rights next season with the rest going through the qualifying school set early next year.
After 14 stops, players ranked from Nos. 35 to 60 are closely bunched together, ensuring a fierce battle in all four days of the championship with those within the top 40 out to firm up their spots and those from No. 41 below hoping to crash into the elite group with strong finishes.
From among the roster includes Tony Lascuña, who missed extending his reign as the top money earner for the fourth straight year with a failed title bid at ICTSI Open at Wack Wack two weeks ago and a dismal finish at Central Azucarera de Tarlac last week.
Miguel Tabuena ruled both events, the first in come-from-behind fashion and the other in overpowering style to crown himself the new Order of Merit champion with one leg left in the circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Tabuena has begged off to compete this week to play on the Asian Tour in Japan, along with two-leg winner Angelo Que and Aboitiz Invitational champion Juvic Pagunsan. But the young gun has safely secured the OOM title with earnings of P3,051,917 that included two other victories at Splendido and Rancho Palos Verdes.
Lascuña dropped to second with P2,385,960 and will still fall short of toppling Tabuena even if he wins this week’s event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Lascuña, drew Frankie Miñoza and Dutch Guido Van der Valk in the 7:30 a.m. flight on No. 1.
Mars Pucay, who snapped a three-year slump by winning this season-ending event at Southlinks last year, tees off next to Lascuña group along with Gerald Rosales and Elmer Saban while Elmer Salvador and Jay Bayron, Nos. 4 and 5, respectively, in the OOM, will play alongside Michael Bibat at 11:10 a.m. on No. 10.
Orlan Sumcad and Cassius Casas, Nos. 6 and 8, respectively, in the money rankings, open their bid at 7:40 a.m. on No. 10 with Marvin Dumandan while No. 7 Clyde Mondilla starts at 11 a.m. on No. 10 with Anthony Fernan-do and Korean An-thony Kim.
Others tipped to contend for the crown are Charles Hong, Tonlits Asistio, Jun Bernis, Ferdie Aunzo, Jessie Balasabas, Rufino Bayron, Chris delos Santos, Mhark Fernando along with a number of Korean players raring to score a breakthough in the circuit backed by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Callaway, Srixon, Mizuno, TaylorMade, Nike Golf, Sharp, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Rudy Project, Pacsports, Omnisource, Cleveland Golf, KZG, FootJoy, Silicon, Empire and Great Depot.