Aboitiz Invitational attracts tough international field

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The Asian Development Tour’s top-ranked players, bannered by reigning Order of Merit winner Jay Bayron of the Philippines, and a tough local field led by last year’s winner Elmer Salvador, will dispute top honors in the Aboitiz Invitational which blasts off July 24-27 at the Cebu Country Club.

Bayron and other occupants of the Top 5 in the OOM – American James Bowen, English Grant Jackson, Scottish James Byrne and Japanese Mitsuhiko Hashizume – headline a 126-player cast out to foil Salvador’s back-to-back title bid in the $65,000 event.

Salvador, who beat countryman Antonio Lascuna by six shots in a dramatic triumph at home last year, seeks to make a repeat and at the same time get a slice of history as the first player to defend his title on the ADT, a feeder circuit for the Asian Tour.

“I’ve come close to winning on the Asian Tour and my victory at the Aboitiz Invitational gave me renewed confidence to try harder,” said Salvador.

Also featured in the four-day event, a joint endeavor of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and the Philippine Golf Tour, teen sensation Miguel Tabuena, veteran Artemio Murakami, former Asian Tour winner and ADT regular Carl Santos-Ocampo and Charles Hong of Cebu CC.

The fourth edition of the Aboitiz Invitation was launched yesterday with Asian Tour’s Tour Operations Director Jittisak Tamprasert, PGTI General Manager Socorro Ventosa, VECO COO Sebastian Lacson, representing Aboitiz Group, Cebu CC GM Jeric Hechanova, and Santos-Ocampo and Hong in attendance.

Unlike the past three editions which was played on a par-71 setup, this year’s Aboitiz golfest will have the participants tackling a par-72 course.

“Everybody needs to bring his A-game to this course,” said Hong, who is making a sentimental bid at Cebu CC, where he’s a two-time club titlist.

“This will be very special for me since I grew up playing golf here and most probably, this will be the last tournament I will play in this course in its present condition so I might as well take this opportunity,” said Hong of the course that’s slated to undergo renovation.

The event also serves as the eighth leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour and will actually kick off back-to-back ADT legs with the ICTSI Classic slated July 31 to August 3 at Mt. Malarayat in Lipa, Batangas.

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