Robert Pactolerin and Cassius Casas can’t help but turn nostalgic as they brace for the revival of the ICTSI Philippines Masters starting on Wednesday at its home course at Villamor Golf Club.
They hope not only to turn back the hands of time but also turn back the young guns in this one particular tournament so dear to them for its lore and tradition.
“It’s nice to have the Masters back here at Villamor. It’s been a long time,” said Pactolerin, who has ruled this event many times over during his prime. “But times have changed, we have matured and a lot of young, talented players has emerged through the years.”
The Masters used to be one of local version’s four majors – the others being the Philippine Open, the President’s Cup and the National PGA – and its annual staging always drew huge international participation and crowds.
But though Villamor looks vulnerable to this generation of long hitters, Pactolerin said the tight, tree-lined military layout remains challenging even to the toughest pros.
“You need to hit accurate drives or the trees will come into play. A little miscue will result to a double or triple bogey,” said Pactolerin.
While the likes of Clyde Mondilla and Tony Lascuña remain the early favorites in the P2 million event, Pactolerin maintains the desire to win is still there which he hopes to display, along with his familiarity with the par-72 layout.
Casas, who edged Pactolerin in a thrilling playoff to win the last Masters in 2000, also keeps a positive outlook heading to the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
“We can still win, We still have the power although we have to be consistent with our putting which I believe will decide this week’s winner,” said Casas, who used to dominate the local circuit until the tour was shelved due to the ban on sin products from sponsoring sports tournaments.
Still, focus will be on Mondilla, who is coming into the event brimming with confidence after humbling Lascuña and Miguel Tabuena by one at the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship.
Lascuña is also out for redemption, guaranteeing another four-day shootout for the top P360,000 purse among the country’s leading pros and a slew of international aces.
Mondilla and Lascuña, along with Casas and the other top pros test the Villamor layout one last time in today’s pro-am tournament where they will be paired with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including ICTSI, BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT.
Heading the foreign challenge are Americans Nicolas Paez, Keoninh Leonen and Paul Harris, Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia, Dutch Guido Van der Valk, Japanese Joichiro Kawada, Korean Park Jun Sung and Aussies Nathan Park, Jason Dawes and David Gleeson.