Clyde Mondilla hopes to ride the crest of his recent playoff win over Jobim Carlos as he shoots for a second straight victory in the ICTSI Calatagan Invitational, which starts tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Calatagan Golf Club in Batangas.
Mondilla foiled Carlos at the ICTSI Manila Masters at Eastridge Golf Club two weeks ago, nipping the rookie pro on the first playoff hole to nail his fourth career victory. They are again tipped to lead the title chase in this week’s event serving as the sixth leg of this year’s Philippine Golf Tour sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
The country’s premier circuit is actually making a return of sort to Calatagan after a two-year absence with the up-and-down, tree-lined layout expected to provide the elite field a different kind of challenge through all four days of competition especially in the presence of the wind.
Meanwhile, the leading pros test the layout one final time in today’s pro-am tournament where they will be paired with guests and officials of the event’s chief backers, including Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion.
Mhark Fernando beat Rufino Bayron by five to reign in 2012 then Tony Lascuna smothered Jhonnel Ababa by four in the 2013 edition en route to a second straight Order of Merit title.
But Fernando and Lascuna are coming off mediocre finishes at Eastridge and will be hard-pressed to churn out solid rounds to contend for the top P270,000 purse in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Lascuna struggled with a closing 76 and ended up 11th while Fernando skied to a 77 and wound up tied for 19th.
But without Miguel Tabuena, who will only arrive today from an Asian Tour campaign in Mauritius where he finished tied for 18th, and Angelo Que, who will competing in Japan PGA Tour this week, a wild open battle looms among the cream of the crop, a slew of foreign bets and a number of rising local stars.
They include Mondilla, who is expected to come into the event brimming with confidence, and Carlos, whose playoff setback should toughen up the 20-year-old shotmaker seeking a breakthrough this early stage of his career.
Ababa and Rufino Bayron are also out to end a long title spell along with Jay Bayron, Elmer Salvador, Mars Pucay, Arnold Villacencio, Anthony Fernando, Marvin Dumandan, Cassius Casas, Zanieboy Gialon, Jerson Balasabas, Charles Hong, Orlan Sumcad, Joenard Rates and Gerald Rosales.
Dutch Guido Van der Valk, who has turned in three top 10 finishes after five legs of the this year’s tour, banners the crack international field that includes Americans Sam Ayotte, Daniel Inocencio, Chris Oetinger and Dylan Jackson, Japanese Syotaro Onuki and Yuta Sudo, Aussie Nathan Park and Koreans Park Chan Jung, Park Jun Song and Park Min Ung.