Thai Pasavee Lertvilai and Ian Andrew of Indonesia try to end a string of heartbreak finishes on the Philippine Golf Tour Asia as they head 41 other foreign aces seeking an end to the locals’ domination in the CAT (Central Azucarera de Tarlac) Open beginning Wednesday at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac.
Lertvilai blew his first crack at the PGTA crown with a playoff loss to unfancied Rene Menor at Splendido last September and lost steam in a final round duel with Zanieboy Gialon and Justin Quiban at Wack Wack two weeks ago, settling for joint third in the fourth leg of the region’s newest circuit ruled by Tony Lascuña.
Andrew, on the other hand, slugged it out with the country’s top shotmakers Miguel Tabuena and Angelo Que for three days, only to fade in the final day and finish third in the PGTA kickoff leg at Manila Southwoods last August.
But they, along with the likes of WIsut Artjanawat, Americans James Bowen, Paul Harris and Lexus Keoninh, and Aussies Andrew Campbell, Rick Coleman and Daniel Morgan, exude confidence heading to this week’s $100,000 event, ready to challenge the local aces in the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI.
But they will be as much tested as the Filipino bets with Lascuña hoping to ride the momentum of his recent victory, 2017 PGT Order of Merit winner Clyde Mondilla out to rebound from an abbreviated campaign at Wack Wack and a slew of others all primed up for a shot at the $17,500 top purse in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
More than length, emphasis will be on accuracy and short game with the tight Luisita layout expected to challenge the field’s patience and mental toughness with the water hazards coming into play in all 12 holes, including the signature No. 17.
A select group of pros will test the par-72 course one last time in today’s (Tuesday) pro-am tournament where they will be paired with the amateurs and guests of the event’s chief backers, including Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.
Ninety-nine players from 17 countries are entered in the event capping the PGTA five-leg calendar for the year with a number of elite events being lined up for next year, including the Solaire Philippine Open in March.
Other local players tipped to contend are Zanieboy Gialon, Jay Bayron, Elmer Salvador, Michael Bibat and Jhonnel Ababa along with Jobim Carlos, Ira Alido, Keanu Jahns and Quiban, who is due for a big win after a series of top five finishes.