One hundred fourteen players from at least 17 countries begin their chase for spots in Asia’s newest pro golf league—the PGT Asia Tour (PGTA) —as the 72-hole Qualifying School unwraps on Wednesday at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac.
Thirty-eight locals, majority of whom stand outside of the top 40 of the current Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit rankings, banner the field vying for the top 60-plus ties berths in the four-day qualifier leading to high-stakes tournaments beginning with the PGTA Aboitiz Invitational at Southwoods next week.
The organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. has lined up $100,000 championships for the first seven PGTA legs and a minimum of $300,000 for the eighth event of the new regional circuit, put up by the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. following the continued success of the men’s and ladies circuits of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
ICTSI, which revived the local pro golf circuit in 2009 and turned it to become Southeast Asia’s largest national circuit, will also put up a total prize of $1.7 million in 2018 and $2 million in 2019 with plans to further increase the purse in the future.
This should make the next four days worth watching with the aspirants expected to dish out their best for the coveted PGTA slots. In fact, more tournaments for the next two years are also being finalized and talks to hold future legs in other parts of Asia, particularly Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, are ongoing.
A number of players inside the PGT OOM top 40, including young guns Jobim Carlos, Keanu Jahns and Micah Shin, are also in the Q-School, all seeking to earn cards when the PGTA eventually holds tournaments abroad.
Australia has 21 players in the elims while South Korea and the US have 10 each. Other countries represented are Malaysia, Spain, Indonesia, Sweden, New Zealand, South Africa, Guatemala, Japan, Thailand, United Kingdom and Singapore.
The top 80 players after 36 holes will advance to the final two rounds with the top 60 and ties gaining cards on the new regional circuit.
The PGTA will kick off with the Aboitiz Invitational on Aug. 15-18 at Southwoods followed by the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Open at Luisita (Sept. 6-9), ICTSI Riviera Championship (Sept. 13-16), the ICTSI Wack Wack Challenge (Nov. 15-18) and the Splendido Taal (Nov. 29-Dec. 2). Still to be determined are the venues for the seventh leg set Dec. 6-9 and the eighth leg scheduled early next year.
The PGTA is geared towards offering golfers from the Philippines, Asia and other parts of the world another platform on which to play and at the same time to complement each country’s national golf tour and the existing regional circuits.