Twelve Japanese, nine South Koreans and five Australians make up the bulk of the 33-man foreign contingent set to slug it out with the local stars in the rich ICTSI Anvaya Cove Invitational beginning on Wednesday at the Anvaya Cove Golf and Sports Club in Morong, Bataan.
Former Philippine Golf Tour winner Toru Nakajima and former Asian Tour campaigner Hirotaro Naito head the big Japanese crew vying in the P3.5 million event, which also drew the likes of Nicolas Paez of the US, Jose Rolz of Guatemala, Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia, Poland’s Thomas Bosco and regular PGT campaigner Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands.
Jason Dawes, Kingsley Kelly, Rhett McIvor, Frederick Park and Ian Tonumaipe’a will banner the bid of the aces from Down Under while Park Jun Sung, Kim Beom Soo and Lee Hyeon Tae will carry the cudgels for the big Korean delegation out to make an impact in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
With last year’s champion and recent The Country Club Invitational winner Miguel Tabuena opting to take a much-needed rest following a grueling five-week campaign here and abroad, the chase for the top P650,000 purse is expected to go down to the last shot or putt.
“This is going to be a wide-open race but the locals are ready and confident to keep the crown at home,” said reigning PGT Order of Merit champion Tony Lascuña, who is also coming off a series tournaments, making him battle-ready in the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI.
Lascuña and the 28 other pros test the Anvaya layout today for the traditional pro-am where they will be paired with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including KZG, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, TaylorMade, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, Event Captain, Ping and Pioneer Insurance.
Joining Lascuña in the title hunt are Angelo Que, Clyde Mondilla, Elmer Salvador, Jay Bayron, Cassius Casas, Zanieboy Gialon and Jobim Carlos along with Ferdie Aunzo, Jerson Balasabas, Rufino Bayron, Jun Bernis, Michael Bibat, Marvin Dumandan, Albin Engino.
Juvic Pagunsan, foiled by Tabuena at the TCC Invitational, also withdrew two days before the tournament, citing emergency.
But a host of local players are also in the fold, including Anthony Fernando, Mhark Fernando, Charles Hong, Keanu Jahns, Rey Pagunsan, Mars Pucay, Justin Quiban, Joenard Rates, Gerald Rosales and Orlan Sumcad.
Meanwhile, the second leg will be held at the Eastridge Golf Club in Binangonan, Rizal for the ICTSI Manila Masters on April 5 to 8, while Luisita Golf and Country Club will host the ICTSI Luisita Championship on April 26 to 29, before the five-leg Asian Development Tour kicks off with the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship at the Orchard Golf and Country Club in Dasmariñas, Cavite on May 10 to 13.