Zanieboy Gialon brims with confidence as he sets out for a second straight championship in the ICTSI Forest Hills Championship beginning Wednesday, unfazed by the souped-up field and the wind-swept Forest Hills Golf and Country Club course in Antipolo.
Coming off a six-stroke triumph in Calatagan that snapped a three-year title spell, the diminutive Davaoeño shotmaker said he’s in top condition, ready to take up the challenge and expects to figure for the championship for the second straight time.
“So far, so good. I’m pretty confident with my shots and putting and I expect to contend again,” said Gialon, who put in four impressive under-par cards to produce a 16-under 272 total and beat Jhonnel Ababa by six in Calatagan.
But he admits it will be tough to score back-to-back, particularly with the power-hitting Angelo Que joining the title hunt in the P3 million event sponsored by ICTSI. The three-time Asian Tour winner is also coming into the event in top form following a joint fifth place finish in Japan three weeks ago and a sixth place effort at Queen’s Cup in Thailand last Sunday.
“It will not only be Angelo, but a lot of players to watch out for,” said Gialon. “So I will also need some luck in order to beat them.”
Que, winner of the Philippine Golf Tour’s kick-off leg at Anvaya last February, is taking a break from the Japan PGA Tour where he campaigns to lead the chase for the top P550,000 purse in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Gialon, Que and the other leading pros tune-up for the big event in today’s (Tuesday) pro-am where they will be paired with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including ICTSI, Custom Clubmakers, BDO, Meralco, Sharp, KZG, PLDT, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and K&G Golf.
Meanwhile, Clyde Mondilla, who scored back-to-back wins at Southwoods and Villamor, is also expected to bounce back from a joint fifth place effort at Calatagan together with Tony Lascuña, who is out to end a series of heartbreaks that saw him finish tied for second to Mondilla and wind up third behind Gialon and Ababa.
Also tipped to join the title chase are Jay Bayron, Elmer Salvador, Mars Pucay, Cassius Casas, Mhark Fernando, Rey Pagunsan, Jun Bernis, Michael Bibat and Ababa with a number of foreign bets also raring to spoil the local aces and duplicate Thai Gunn Charoenkul’s one-shot victory over Mondilla at Orchard last May.
They include American Nicolas Paez, Korean Park Jun Sung, Aussie Nathan Park, Macedonian Peter Stojanovski and local-based Dutch Guido Van der Valk.
Jobim Carlos, Ira Alido, Keanu Jahns, John Kier Abdon and Justin Quiban, on the other hand, banner the youth brigade out to humble the veterans for a breakthrough win in the country’s premier circuit.