Clyde Mondilla and Tony Lascuña drew early tee-times in what promises to be an explosive start for the Philippine Golf Tour aces seeking a third leg victory in the ICTSI Forest Hills Championship which gets going today at the Forest Hills Golf and Country Club in Antipolo.
Mondilla, back-to-back winner at Eastridge and Calatagan, gets a favorable tee-off time at 7:10 a.m. on No. 1 but drew two tough rivals in Jay Bayron and Jobim Carlos while Lascuña, who ran away with the Luisita crown last April and foiled Mondilla’s three-straight title bid at Eagle Ridge, kicks off his campaign two flight behind at 7:30 a.m. with Joenard Rates and Dutch Guido Van der Valk.
“I feel good and I like my chances here,” said Lascuña, who still took part in yesterday’s pro-am despite coming off a joint 11th place finish at the Queen’s Cup in Thailand last Sunday.
The 46-year-old former three-time PGT Order of Merit winner has stressed the need to re-familiarize himself with the rolling par-72 layout in anticipation of a fierce challenge from the rest of the 77-player field chasing the top P360,000 purse in the eighth leg of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Philippine Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“It will be anybody’s race but a good start is key to build some momentum. The course is tough but with the right approach, one can still score low here,” said Lascuña, who thwarted Mondilla, Bayron and Orlan Sumcad then held off Japanese Ryoma Miki to snare a one-stroke win at Eagle Ridge early this month.
But focus will be on Mondilla, Bayron and Carlos group with the 23-year-old Del Monte star bracing for an early shootout with the veteran Bayron and the fancied rookie Carlos, who showed a lot of promise despite losing to Mondilla in a playoff at Eastridge.
But if there’s one player who knows what it takes to win at Forest Hills, it’s Mars Pucay, who bested a stellar field to rule this event in 2010 marred by the first-round withdrawal and subsequent suspension of Juvic Pagunsan.
But the former national champion has struggled while trying to regain his form, posting just a victory at the tough Southlinks two years ago while turning in just one Top 10 place effort in the first seven legs of this year’s tour backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion.
Still, Pucay is confident of his chances for a repeat as he starts at 8:30 a.m., also on No. 1 with Mhark Fernando and Korean Hwang Kang Youl.
Other featured flights are those of Elmer Salvador, Justin Quiban and Jerson Balasabas at 7 p.m. on No. 10; Marvin Dumandan, Korean Park Min Ung and Rico Depilo at 8:10 a.m.; Cassius Casas, Charles Hong and Albin Engino at 7:10 a.m., and Rufino Bayron, Jhonnel Ababa and Sumcad at 7:20 a.m., also at the back.