All but one of the top 10 players in the Asian Development Tour Order of Merit ranking, including the top five, are seeing action in the Aboitiz Invitational firing off Wednesday, ready to slug it out with the local aces in what promises to be an explosive duel at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club’s East course in Mandaluyong.
ADT OOM frontrunner Pavit Tangkamolprasert of Thailand, winner of the Yeangder ADT in Taiwan last March, No. 2 Johannes Veerman of the US, No. 3 Gavin Green of Australia, No. 4 Itthipat Buranatanyarat and No. 5 Poom Saksansin, both of Thailand, banner the elite foreign field in the $100,000 event that will also feature the country’s leading and rising stars out to keep the crown at home soil.
The Filipinos have ruled the first five editions of the annual event put up by Aboitiz Equity Ventures but with the depth of the foreign field and the unpredictability of the par-72 layout, the chase for the top $17,500 purse could be decided on the last putt or on an extra hole or two.
For one, Green and Swede Oscar Zetterwall, No. 7 in the OOM, are out to score a second win here after the former rallied in the final round to snare the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship last April, adding the victory to his triumph at Northport Glenmarie in Malaysia last February.
Zetterwall, on the other hand, nailed his maiden ADT win at the ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic, also last April, making him and Green two of the foreign players to watch in the 72-hole championship co-organized by ADT and Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Also in the fold are American Nick Sherwood, Thai Panuwat Muenlek, George Gandranata of Indonesia, John Michael O’Toole and Josh Salah of the US, Chanat Sakulpolphaisan, Rattanon Wanasrichan and Wisut Artjanawat of Thailand, American Blake Snyder and Scot James Byrne.
Still, the local shotmakers are ready to foil the ADT bets’ bid with two-time Aboitiz champion Elmer Salvador, inaugural winner Jay Bayron, 2014 titlist Tony Lascuña upbeat of their chances in the event supported by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion.
Frankie Miñoza, who bucked the odds to nip Rio-bound Miguel Tabuena in a record five-hole playoff to win the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic crown in Bacolod two weeks ago, has also been picked as a top contender, given his current form and familiarity with the challenging layout where he won the Philippine Open in 2007.
Juvic Pagunsan, last year’s runaway winner at Maniila Southwoods, is also expected to join the hunt in the 18th leg of the ADT and 11th of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
Like all other ADT events, the Aboitiz Invitational, co-organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., will offer Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) points to the top six players and ties based on a sliding scale.