Elmer Salvador and Frankie Miñoza duel in an early clash of the fancied bets while Tony Lascuna, Carl Santos-Ocampo and Miguel Tabuena try to fuel their respective bids via late tee-times as the P2.5 million ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship begins today at Southwoods’ Legends Course in Carmona, Cavite.

Salvador, the Aboitiz Invitational repeat winner, and two-leg champion Miñoza drew title hungry Richard Sinfuego in the 7:30 a.m. flight—all looking forward for a strong start while Lascuna, Santos-Ocampo and Tabuena will have to do it probably the harder way—in tougher condition in the afternoon.

But it will all boil down to shotmaking and putting with the men of the tour expected to beat the par-72 bunker-laden layout through all four days owing to their highly competitive form and shape.

“I feel good and I will really go for a win here,” said Lascuna, who beat absentee Angelo Que by two in a thrilling finale in last year’s staging of the event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services. Inc.

The reigning ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion and current frontrunner, however, said luck would also play a big part in his back-to-back bid, given the depth of the field.

“I’m in top shape but one also needs some luck to win in this of tournament,” added Lascuna.

Miñoza, for one, is raring to nail a third leg win this year with the veteran shotmaker expected to take advantage of their early start on No. 1 although he faces an early test of will against Salvador, who is out to avenge his five-shot loss to Minoza at ICTSI Pueblo de Oro Championship last July.

Lascuna, also seeking to end a string of runner-up finishes after dominating the ICTSI Calatagan Challenge last May, will start at 11:30 a.m. on No. 1 in the company of fellow Davaoeño Mhark Fernando and James Ryan Lam, while Santos-Ocampo, the runaway winner in the last leg at ICTSI Midlands, is in for an early shootout with Tabuena, winner of the kickoff leg at ICTSI Sherwood, and power-hitting Marvin Dumandan at 11:40 a.m. on No. 10.

Jay Bayron, the ICTSI John Hay leg winner and another contender for the top purse of P450,000 in the 72-hole event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc,, will tee off next to Miñoza and company with Ferdie Aunzo and Orlan Sumcad joining him in the 7:40 a.m. group.

While the big guns are expected to slug it out for top honors, the likes of Jhonnel Ababa, Gerald Rosales, Jun Bernis, Mars Pucay, Charles Hong, Zanie Boy Gialon, Jerson Balasabas, Cassius Casas and Anthony Fernando are also tipped to crowd the leaderboard, ensuring a fierce battle not only for the crown but for OOM ranking points.

Other backers of the event are Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, FootJoy, Titleist, Sharp, BMW and Gergia Energy Foods.

Jhonnel Ababa, meanwhile, launched his title drive by leading his team composed of Jun Lacson, Gil Angeles and Jay Valdez to victory with a 21-under 51 in yesterday’s pro-am tournament.

Santos-Ocampo and partners Richie Santos, Romy Yao and Felix Cortez placed second with a 54, nipping Ferdie Aunzo, along with amateur teammates Erich Lingad, Vincent Marquez and John Romero, in the countback.


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