CARMONA, Cavite: The local aces aim for nothing but redemption after being shut out of the Top 10 last year with Miguel Tabuena, Tony Lascuña and Clyde Mondilla spearheading the challenge against a crack foreign field in the $60,000 ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship firing off today (Wednesday, May 17) at the Legends course here.
Malaysian Gavin Green led last year’s foreign domination with a two-shot win over Koh Deng Shan of Singapore with Tabuena emerging as the best local finisher at joint 13th. But the hosts hope for a better finish this time with a fully rested Tabuena seeking a second crown in three weeks, Lascuña out for a follow-up to his Manila Masters romp last month and Mondilla upbeat after a runner-up finish to Thai Gunn Charoenkul at Orchard last week.
“It’s always a happy feeling playing at home. And I’m looking forward to another great week,” said the 22-year-old Tabuena, who skipped the Orchard tilt to rest following a grueling campaign that included stints in the Asian Tour and Japan PGA.
The former Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit winner, who rallied from seven down to edge South African Mathiam Keyser at Luisita, drew American Nicolas Paez and Jhonnel Ababa in the 8:10 a.m. flight on No. 1.
One thing going for the locals is that they’ll be playing on a course so familiar with them, particularly Lascuña, who calls the bunker-laden layout his home although the veteran campaigner stressed the need for the Filipinos to stand up to the challenge posed by their long-hitting foreign rivals in the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI.
“We’re confident of our chances but there’s a lot of long hitters in the field and that is the key here,” said Lascuña, also pointing to putting as a key factor to winning at Legends.
He tees off two flights ahead of Tabuena at 7:50 a.m. with Jay Bayron and Mondilla, who missed setting a record victory last week on a stunning six-shot swing on a birdie-birdie finish coupled with and lost by one to Charoenkul at Orchard.
“Judging for what I saw, this will all boil down to putting. Most likely, a 15-under total will win it,” said Tabuena after yesterday’s pro-am graced by officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including ICTSI, BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT.
That should guarantee a shootout from among the 110-player starting field that includes Keyser, who is also raring to bounce back after withdrawing in the second round at Orchard, American John Catlin, Choo Tze-Huang of Singapore, Dutch Guido Van der Valk, Nicolas Paez of the US, Aussie David Gleeson and Korean Park Jun Sung.
Other local bets tipped to contend for the crown in the fifth leg of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. are Jay Bayron, Elmer Salvador, Zanieboy Gialon, Jhonnel Ababa, Mhark Fernando, Anthony Fernando, Mars Pucay, Orlan Sumcad, Rey Pagunsan, Ferdie Aunzo, Keanu Jahns, Jobim Carlos, Ira Alido, Cassius Casas and Rufino Bayron.
Meanwhile, the event also serves as a prelude to next week’s revival of the ICTSI Philippine Masters, which used to be one of local version’s four majors at its home at Villamor Golf Club.
Meanwhile, the power-hitting Orlan Sumcad, with partners Manny Alarilla, Sunny Donato and Byran Donato, scored a 125 under the Modified Scramble format to rule yesterday’s pro-am with Ferdie Aunzo’s team that included Christopher Ilagan, Alexander Ong and Arnel Paras finishing second with 128.5 and Jhonnel Ababa, with Elimar Caranguian, Rupert Sison and Myrna Enriquez, placing third with a 129.