Tony Lascuña kicks off his drive for another Order of Merit feat, Japan PGA Tour campaigner Angelo Que tries to make the most of his rare local stint and Clyde Mondilla hopes to go a notch higher after finishing No. 2 in the OOM derby last year.
The troika leads the 112-player cast in the ICTSI Anvaya Cove Invitational firing off today at the Anvaya Cove Golf and Sports Club in Morong, Bataan, each raring to put on a strong start in what promises to be a spirited battle for the top P650,000 purse in the P3.5 million event.
“Every successful campaign is anchored on a solid start, so I expect everybody to give it his best shot right in the opening round,” said Lascuña, who racked up five victories, including three straight, on his way to re-claiming the Order of Merit title last year.
Two of the country’s premier players, defending champion Miguel Tabuena and former Asian Tour No. 1 Juvic Pagunsan, begged off due to various reasons but the depth of the competing field remained as talent-laden as ever with 33 foreign aces firming up the cast, all going flat out to spoil the locals’ bid in the 72-hole championship serving as the kickoff leg of this year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
The field’s stint in The Country Club Invitational at the tough TCC course two weeks ago should toughen them up for this week’s event where Tabuena used a course-record 62 start to post a three-stroke victory over Mondilla last year.
Que also essayed a three-shot win over Lascuña when Anvaya first joined the elite roster of courses hosting the annual circuit sponsored by ICTSI in 2015 but the former three-time Asian Tour champion has not won in his limited appearances last year, making him hungrier for this week’s title chase.
Que, Lascuña and Frankie Miñoza along with unheralded R-James Dizon slug it out in the featured group at 7:24 a.m. on No. 10 while Mondilla drew Japanese Shota Fukuhara, Mhark Fernando and Jun Bernis in the 8 a.m. flight on No. 1.
Jay Bayron, Michael Bibat, Randy Garalde and Benjie Magada clash in the 11:36 a.m. at the front, Jobim Carlos, Cassius Casas, Jet Mathay and Erwin Arcillas are grouped in the 11:12 a.m. flight at the back, while Zanieboy Gialon, Marvin Dumandan, Rufino Bayron and Poland’s Thomas Bosco will start at 11:36 a.m., also on No. 10.
Given the playing condition at the seaside layout, with the wind blowing from all over under intense heat, a host of unheralded but solid players could grab the spotlight from the fancied bets in the event backed by KZG, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, TaylorMade, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, Event Captain, Ping and Pioneer Insurance.
The qualifiers from both the local and foreign Q-School and a host of lesser lights are also eager to fuel their respective title campaigns with strong starts and ready to steal the thunder from the big guns in the kickoff leg of this year’s 15-stage circuit.