The country’s top guns brace for a big rebound from the crack international field as they gear up for another fierce duel in the PGT Asia Tour second leg – the ICTSI Splendido Classic – which fires off Thursday at Taal Splendido Golf Club in Tagaytay.
The Filipinos dominated the region’s newest circuit’s kickoff leg at Manila Southwoods last month with Miguel Tabuena and Angelo Que posting a 1-2 finish in the Aboitiz Invitational and Indonesian Ian Andrew ending up far third.
With the troika skipping this week’s event to honor previous commitments abroad, veterans Tony Lascuña, Jay Bayron and Elmer Salvador and young gun Clyde Mondilla hope to carry the cudgels for the hosts against the expected charge from at least 48 foreign players vying in the $100,000 event sponsored by ICTSI.
“We’ll try to make it two-in-row. We have the so-called homecourt edge but anything can happen at Splendido, especially if the wind come into play,” said Lascuña, winner of two legs on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour but who struggled to finish ninth at Aboitiz Invitational.
He rued his bout with arthritis that slowed down his charge at Southwoods but the reigning PGT Order of Merit winner and current leader said he’s 100 percent ready this week and expects to contend for the crown in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“I feel good now and hungry (for a win). The key is a good start then I’ll take it from there,” said the ace Davaoeño shotmaker.
Michael Bibat actually sets out as the best local finisher in Aboitiz in the absence of Tabuena and Que, placing fourth on a final round 64. But consistency continues to hound the former Asian Games bronze medalist with the wind-raked Splendido offering a different kind of challenge than Southwoods, ensuring another tight battle for the top $17,500 purse.
“The course is in championship condition. As usual, conditions are tough, especially if the winds come in,” said Taal Splendido general manager Bobby Chico.
Meanwhile, Lascuña and other leading local and foreign players test the par-72 layout in today’s (Wednesday) pro-am tournament where they will team up with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.
PGTA Q-School topnotcher Pasavee Lertvelai is expected to lead the foreign challenge, along with Thai Wisut Artjanawat, Americans Seungjae Maeng, John Michael O’Toole and Cory Oride, Korean-American Micah Shin, Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang, Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia and Swede Andreas Gronkvist.