Angelo Que hopes to sustain his good run of form as he slugs it out with fellow local aces and a slew of foreign bets, upbeat of his chances for a title repeat in the ICTSI Manila Masters unfolding today at the Eastridge Golf Club in Binangonan, Rizal.
Que turned in a strong ninth place finish at The Crowns of the Japan PGA Tour last Sunday and took the first flight out Monday to make it in time for the P3.5 million tournament serving as the fifth leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour. He begged off from yesterday’s pro-am tournament to take the much-needed rest but did some chipping and pitching while polishing his putting stroke.
That makes him ready for the 72-hole championship he ruled via a two-stroke win over Miguel Tabuena and Ferdie Aunzo last year with the 38-year-old former three-time Asian Tour winner hoping to fuel his title-retention drive with a strong start in the featured 7:40 a.m. flight with Mars Pucay and Clyde Mondilla at the backside of the mountaintop layout.
“I feel good and in great shape. But I’m just really happy to be home because I’ve been away for three weeks,” said Que, also priming up, together with Tabuena, for the Rio Olympics in August.
“I’ll let you know on Friday,” he added in jest when asked of his probable rivals in the final flight on Saturday.
That could be Tabuena or Tony Lascuna or any other local or foreign players who could dish out superb form in the first three days at the up-and-down hazard-laden layout, which changes in character in every swirl of the wind.
With Que out of the pro-am, Tabuena ruled the 18-hole tournament, leading his team made up of Patrick Solano, Thirdy Sinjian and Jay Pabalan to victory with a 16-under 56 aggregate, winning by one over Rolando Marabe Jr. and teammates Ron Mercado, Raffy Mercado and Alliana Casas, who nipped Albin Engino, with amateurs Manny Alarilla, Sunny Donato and Alex Ryu, in the countback.
Que actually needed one solid round last year to clinch the championship, firing a 66 in the third day to tie Tabuena at the helm then outlasting his young rival and holding off a charging Aunzo with an even par 72.
But the power-hitting Que believes he would need four rounds of solid play this time to keep the championship and hold off the expected charge of Tabuena, Lascuna and the rest of the 93-player starting field chasing the top P650,000 purse in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp and Champion.
Tabuena, the reigning Order of Merit winner chasing a follow-up to his victory in the kickoff leg at Anvaya Cove, drew Charles Hong and Aunzo in the 10:50 a.m. group, also on No. 10, while Lascuna, the former three-time OOM champion and winner of this year’s second leg at Luisita, will start late at 11:10 a.m. on No. 1 with the long-hitting pair of Marvin Dumandan and Orlan Sumcad.
Guido Van der Valk is also due for a big finish after a joint fourth effort at Anvayan with the Dutch shotmaker joining Cassius Casas and Jhonnel Ababa in the 7:20 a.m. group on No. 10.
A host of Koreans are also out to score a breakthrough with Park Min Ung leading their charge along with Seok Jun Min, Kim Chang Yeon, Park Jun Song, Park Chan Jung, Kim Chang Hoi, Charlie Chang, Hwang Kang Youl and Kim In Jae.
Other local players tipped to contend for the championship are Elmer Salvador, Michael Bibat, Jay Bayron Frankie Minoza, Jobim Carlos, Mhark Fernando, Anthony Fernando, Jun Bernis, Joenard Rates, Rufino Bayron and Zanieboy Gialon.