With a forecast of a windy week, expect the unexpected when the pros begin their chase for a record purse under a record format in the P3 million ICTSI Eagle Ridge Classic which reels off today at the Norman and Faldo courses at the sprawling Eagle Ridge golf complex in Gen. Trias, Cavite.
Tony Lascuna draws veteran Frankie Minoza and former national champion Anthony Fernando in the 8:20 a.m. flight at Faldo while Angelo Que is paired with Mars Pucay and Rufino Bayron in the 9:20 a.m. group at Norman, all hoping for a strong start and the momentum needed to boost their respective title bids in this novel tournament featuring three courses, a first in Philippine golf.
The 93-player field will be split into two and play the Norman and Faldo courses in the first two days with the surviving 40-plus ties heading to the final 36 holes to be played at the Aoki layout.
The dreaded Dye course was supposed to be the third round venue but the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. said it was not ready in time for the event, thus paving the way for Aoki to host the final two rounds.
Anything can happen, anybody can win,” said Lascuna, the reigning back-to-back ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit (OOM) champion.
Eagle Ridge general manager Raymond Bunquin said it’s going to be windy at all courses this week, guaranteeing a wide-open battle for the top P550,000 purse in this third leg of the 16-stage circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
“I think the players should take advantage of the friendly Norman and Faldo courses. In fact, they should post good scores at them then give it a go at Aoki,” said Bunquin.
OOM winner and back-to-back Aboitiz Invitational winner Elmer Salvador will be teeing off with ICTSI Splendido winner Jay Bayron and the long-hitting Orlan Sumcad at 8:20 a.m. at Norman.
Jun Rates is also bracing for a challenging week but the diminutive pro is ready to face the odds, boosted by his breakthrough victory at ICTSI John Hay Championship two weeks ago.
“This new format is more challenging, and everybody has a chance. I really looked forward to this event since it offers a bigger challenge,” said Rates, who humbled the cream of the crop to rule the Baguio leg of the circuit.
Rates primed himself up for a second straight win by ruling yesterday’s pro-am teaming up with Joan Cortez, Felix Cortez and Uriel Halum to shoot a 51 for a two-shot victory over Orlan Sumcad, Arnel Paras, Yassin Palileo and Dex Yaptenco, who had 53.
Lascuna, with Ireneo Arbues, Lee Tong Hwa and Ramil Villanueva, placed third with 55.
Rates joins the group of young turk Miguel Tabuena and Rene Menor at 9:20 a.m. at Faldo, a 7,343-yard layout which boasts of a tough hole at No. 16, a 447-yard par-4 where the green is sadistically placed beside a ravine.
Que is also tipped to contend for the crown with the three-time Asian Tour winner using this event as a tune-up for his stint in next week’s Malaysia Open.
Minoza, a three-leg winner last year, also marveled at the strong wind at Norman during yesterday’s pro-am tournament and hinted at a very challenging week for the men of the tour.
Manila-based Canadian Rick Gibson, the best placed foreign player at John Hay at joint ninth, heads the foreign contingent along with Dutch Guido Van der Valk, Japanese Tomo Yoshinaga and Korean Park Gyu Ha. Gibson is paired with Elliott Hume and Antolin Fernando in the 8:30 a.m. flight at Faldo while Van der Valk drew with Miguel Ochoa and Rico Depilo in the 8:10 a.m. group at Norman.