Justin Quiban seeks to become the first two-leg winner in the inaugural Philippine Golf Tour Asia as he banners the elite cast in the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Invitational unfolding Wednesday (Jan. 17) at the Eagle Ridge Golf and Country Club in Gen. Trias, Cavite.
Quiban scored a breakthrough win after two final round fold-ups in the PGTA, posting a three-stroke romp over Joenard Rates in the CAT (Central Azucarera de Tarlac) Open at the Luisita Golf and Country Club last month.
He thus became the fifth winner in the first five legs of the PGTA, joining the likes of Miguel Tabuena (Southwoods), Rene Menor (Splendido), Clyde Mondilla (Riviera) and Tony Lascuña (Wack Wack) in the early roster of winners in the region’s newest tour put up by ICTSI.
But the 21-year-old Quiban expects to have his hands full this week as he slugs it out with a slew of rivals eager to start the new year with a victory for the confidence and momentum needed for another busy season on the local circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Except for Tabuena, who will be competing abroad, the other three PGTA winners are all primed up for the $100,000 event, using the holiday break to fine-tune and toughen up for the resumption of the circuit.
A crack foreign contingent is also out to break into the local aces’ stranglehold, all hoping to pull off a surprise in the 72-hole championship also serving as part of the field’s buildup for next month’s grand centennial staging of the Solaire Philippine Open.
They include Indonesians Ian Andrew, Elki Kow, Clement Kurniawan, Andrew Wirawan and Fajarwin Nuryanto, Thais Wisut Artjanawat, Natchanon Varapornkittirat and Pasavee Lertvilai, New Zealand’s Hayden Beard, Americans Nicolas Paez, Paul Harris, John Michael O’Toole and James Bowen, Aussies DJ Loypur and David Gleeson, Singaporean Choo Tze Huang and Koreans Park Jung Sung and Hong Soon Hyup.
Other locals tipped to contend for the crown in the 72-hole championship backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc. are Jhonnel Ababa, Ira Alido, Jay Bayron, Michael Bibat, Jobim Carlos, Zanieboy Gialon, Keanu Jahns, Mars Pucay and Elmer Salvador.
Meanwhile, the Aoki layout has been spruced up in time for the event with low scoring expected given its open fairways although the title chase could get tougher and fiercer in the presence of the wind.