Jay Bayron brims with confidence as he sets out as the marked man in the ICTSI Classic unfolding today at the Mt. Malarayat Golf and Country Club in Lipa City, Batangas, seeking not only to match Tony Lascuña’ three-title romp but also looking to close in on the Order of Merit leader.
“I feel confident. I played the course Monday and it suits my game. I like my chances here,” said Bayron during the traditional pro-am tournament yesterday.
Like what he did in nailing victories in Aboitiz invitational and ICTSI Riviera Clasic the last three weeks, Bayron said he would try to cash in on his rivals’ errors while hoping to put together another superb four rounds of play at the wind-raked layout.
He also sees Lascuña, the current OOM leader with four wins, including three straight at Eagle Ridge, Forest Hills and Bacolod, and No. 3 Clyde Mondilla, back-to-back winner at Eastridge and Calatagan, as the biggest stumbling blocks to his three-straight title bid although a host of others are also going all-out in pursuit of the top P270,000 purse in the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI.
Each is also out to boost his OOM ranking with four legs left in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion.
While the field is expected to cancel each other out in terms of long game and iron play, Lascuña sees the title chase to go down to putting.
“Shotmaking won’t be a problem but it will depend on who putts well in the end,” said Lascuña, who currently leads the OOM race with P2.470 million in earnings, around P350,000 ahead of Bayron.
Meanwhile, Bayron drew Jobim Carlos and Dutch Guido Van der Valk in the 8 a.m. flight on No. 10 while Lascuña will start at the front with Mars Pucay and Benjie Magada at 7:55 a.m.
Mondilla, who skipped the pro-am to rest, will tee off last at 8:50 a.m. on No. 10 with Justin Quiban and returning Japanese Toru Nakajima, who scored a PGT breakthrough at Wack Wack in 2013.
Others expected to figure in the title race are Rufino Bayron, Jun Bernis and Ferdie Aunzo, who will start on the first hole at 7:25 a.m., Elmer Salvador, Rodrigo Cuello and Randy Garalde at 8:25 a.m., also on No. 1, Marvin Dumandan, Joenard Rates and Rene Menor at 7:35 a.m., on No. 1;
Charles Hong, Rey Pagunsan and Tonlits Asistion on No. 10 at 8:20 a.m., Cassius Casas, Arnold Villacencio and Mhark Fernando at 7:30 a.m., also on No. 10, and Orlan Sumcad, Michael Bibat and John Kier Abdon at 8:30 a.m. on No. 10.
Joining Van der Valk and Nakajiman in the foreign roster are Koreans Hong Soon Hyup, Kwon Hyuk Jin and Park Jun Song, and Americans Dillon Soldwisch and Elliot Hume.