Angelo Que gears up for a battle royale against the cream of the local pro crop, gunning for a record fourth win in The Country Club Invitational starting on Thursday and looking for a big head start in a busy golfing season.
Que has been installed as the early favorite in the P5-million, four-day championship at the windy TCC layout in Laguna owing to his form and confidence that made him the best-placed Filipino player at No. 13 in last year’s Asian Tour Order of Merit.
But the three-time TCC Invitational winner, whose feat includes back-to-back romps from 2010-11, has opted to downplay his chances against the top 30 players in last year’s ICTSI-Philippine Golf Tour OOM ranking, saying “the field is strong and talent-laden.”
“Anybody who is playing this week is a title contender. But I’ve always been prepared when it comes to the TCC Invitational so I can say I’m in pretty good shape going into the tournament,” said Que, who finished joint seventh in the last Asian Tour leg in the King’s Cup last month.
Meanwhile, the traditional 18-hole pro-am event, featuring the leadings pros and ICTSI’s guests from various sectors, will be held today after which the 2014 ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour will be launched in elaborate rites.
Que, who had to skip a number of ICTSI PGT tournaments last year to campaign on the Asian Tour where he is also a three-time winner, likewise vows to compete more on the local circuit in a bid to foil Tony Lascuña’s drive for a three-peat in the OOM derby.
“I’ll try to play more ICTSI PGT events and hopefully I can keep up with Tony [Lascuña] in the OOM race,” said Que, who wound up No. 5 in the local OOM with one victory and a couple of runner-up finishes.
With 18 legs lined up by the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc. and sponsoring International Container Terminal Services, Inc. this year, including four P3.5- million events, the local shotmakers are indeed in for a busy season. But Que said he is also set to play in key tournaments abroad as he tries to nail his fourth Asian Tour crown and break into the world’s top 100.
“Finally, I will try to get my fourth win on the Asian Tour and finish in the top 100 in the world golf rankings,” said the ace Filipino shotmaker, who is currently at No. 258.
But Que must first hurdle a slew of players chasing the top P1.5 million purse in the TCC Invitational, including last year’s champion Frankie Miñoza, Lascuna, ace teener Miguel Tabuena, Elmer Salvador and siblings Jay and Rufino Bayron.
Miñoza ended his long quest for the coveted crown by beating the Bayron brothers in sudden death last year. But the former Asian Tour No. 1 is expected to have his hands full against the bumper crop of young shotmakers out to make their mark in the event.
They include Carl Santos-Ocampo, Mhark Fernando, Jhonnel Ababa, Elmer Saban, Charles Hong, Michael Bibat, Mars Pucay, Edward Reyes, Jessie Balasabas, Gerald Rosales, Benjie Magada, Richard Sinfuego, Dutch Guido Van der Valk, Marvin Dumandan, Clyde Mondilla, Orlan Sumcad, Rey Pagunsan, Jun Bernis, Anthony Fernando, Randy Garalde and Ferdie Aunzo and Japanese Toru Nakajima, winner of last year’s final leg at Wack Wack.