The PGT Asia Tour hopes to cash in on its successful launch at Southwoods last month as it holds two $100,000 events in the next two weeks beginning with the ICTSI Splendido Classic on Thursday at Taal Splendido Golf Club in Tagaytay.
A crack international field of 106 will slug it out for top honors at Splendido with four more players, including Aboitiz Invitational third placer Ian Andrew of Indonesia, joining the next tournament at the ICTSI Riviera Classic on Sept. 13-16.
An elite field pounded the kickoff leg host Southwoods’ Legends course with a run of under-par scores with Miguel Tabuena edging Angelo Que by one with a 23-under aggregate last month and 36 others turning in below par outputs last Aug. 18.
But it could get tougher this week with the Splendido layout offering a different kind of challenge with its up-and-down layout, deep ravines and tight fairways and the wind expected to come into play in all four days of the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI.
But while Tabuena and Que, along with Andrew, won’t be around this week to honor previous commitments to play in various tours abroad, the field remains as competitive as ever with 48 foreign players from 17 nations ready to slug it out with the local aces for the rich $17,600 top purse.
Elmer Salvador nipped Jay Bayron by one to snare the ICTSI Splendido Classic crown of the Philippine Golf Tour last year with the reticent Davaoeño shotmaker finishing tied for fifth with Charles Hong in the first leg of the PGT Asia Tour, making him one of the top local contenders this week.
With Tabuena resuming his chase for world ranking points in the Omega European Masters in Switzerland and Que re-joining the Japan PGA Tour, reigning PGT Order of Merit champion and current local tour OOM leader Tony Lascuña and No. 2 Clyde Mondilla join Salvador and Bayron at the forefront of the local challenge along with Michael Bibat, who closed out with a 64 and rallied to finish solo fourth at Southwoods.
While Lascuña seeks to improve on his ninth place effort at the PGTA kickoff leg, Mondialla is raring to atone for his missed-cut stint in the region’s newest circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. put up to further develop the local pros’ games and at the same time make the Philippines a leading international golf destination.
But the local top guns will be hard-pressed to make it two-in-row in the PGTA with PGTA Q-School topnotcher Pasavee Lertvelai also out to rebound from a joint 26th finish at Southwoods along with Americans Seungjae Maeng, John Michael O’Toole and Cory Oride, Korean-American Micah Shin, Singapore’s Choo Tze Huang, Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia and Swede Andreas Gronkvist.
Meanwhile, the leading local and foreign pros team up with officials 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., in the traditional pro-am tournament on Wednesday.