The ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour kicks off the second part of its 16-stage circuit here today (Wednesday) with Tony Lascuña seeking to firm up his bid for a record third straight Order of Merit (OOM) crown in the P1 million ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge at the Iloilo Golf and Country Club in Sta. Barbara in Iloilo.
With victories at ICTSI Eagle Ridge and Valley Golf and four top five finishes halfway through the 2014 season, Lascuña looms as the player to beat in the four-day championship with the reigning back-to-back OOM champion eager to nail another win and pad his lead over Elmer Salvador in the OOM race.
“I feel good about my chances. The long break also proved to be a big help since we were able to take a rest following a grueling campaign here and on the Asian Tour,” said Lascuña, who has piled up earnings of P1,484,065 to lead Salvador (P1,342,750) in the OOM derby heading to the last eight legs of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
He hopes to come out strong in the 7:20 a.m. flight on No. 10 with Rey Pagunsan and Carl Santos-Ocampo while Salvador, who bested a tough international field to rule the ICTSI Riviera Classic of the Asian Development Tour and held in partnership with the Dept. of Tourism, drew ICTSI Splendido leg winner Jay Bayron and Michael Bibat in the 7:20 a.m. group on No. 1.
“I just hope to put it all together—driving, short game and putting—here in Iloilo,” said Salvador in Pilipino.
Winless after eight legs, Angelo Que hopes to finally nail the elusive one in any of the Visayas events with the three-time Asian Tour winner also upbeat of his chances to pull it off here.
“There’s always an advantage and it always helps that I feel at home,” said Que when asked of his chances to score a win on his wife Tracy hometown.
The par-70 layout, the country’s oldest golf course, last hosted an ICTSI leg in 2012 with Mars Pucay nipping Miguel Tabuena to snap a two-year title spell. But Pucay and Tabuena, winner of the last ICTSI event at Eastridge last month, have opted to skip this week’s event, leaving Lascuna, Que and Salvador as the players to beat in the tournament serving as the first of two legs of the Visayas swing.
The Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club in Bacolod will host the next leg next week.
Meanwhile, Santos-Ocampo teamed up with Ray Gomez, Nick Biyo and Vic Lagman and shot a 15-under 55 to rule the pro-am tournament, nipping Orlan Sumcad, with Seve Aguilar, Stephen Aguilar and McRay Ortaliz, in the countback. Rufino Bayron, along with Tony Silloriquez, Julian Martinez and Johnny Young, placed third with a 56.
The 60-player field, which includes ICTSI Orchard leg champion Rufino Bayron and ICTSI Sherwood Hills stage winner Charles Hong, is actually all fired-up coming off a long rest but braces for a tough week with rains in the past few days rendering the IGCC layout soggy.
Que, meanwhile, is paired with veteran campaigner Cassius Casas and Mhark Fernando in the 7:10 a.m. flight on No. 1 while Rufino Bayron and Hong will join Zanie Boy Gialon in the 7:40 a.m. start on No. 10.
Others vying in the event, backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports, Srixon, FootJoy, It’s More Fun in the Philippines, Callaway, Mizuno, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Sharp and KZG, are Ferdie Aunzo, Dante Becierra, Benjie Magada, Orlan Sumcad, Jessie Balasabas, Jhonnel Ababa, Marvin Dumandan, Robert Pactolerin, JR Tanpinco and Miko Alejandro.