Elmer Salvador decided to skip the Indonesian Masters in favor of the ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic, toughening up the already formidable roster slugging it out in the P3 million event beginning today at the Sherwood Hills Golf Club in Dasmariñas, Cavite.
Fifth in the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit ranking, Salvador is out to snap a nine-month title spell on the local circuit and the absence of four other big guns has made it more appealing for the reticent Davaoeño shotmaker to resume his title quest here than abroad.
Salvador was originally set to join Tony Lascuna, Miguel Tabuena, Angelo Que and Cassius Casas in the Asian Tour event in Indonesia but pulled out at the last minute due to lack of practice.
Salvador finished joint third in the last leg at ICTSI Eagle Ridge won by Lascuna.
The big-hitting Orlan Sumcad, meanwhile, underscored his readiness to vie for the coveted top purse of P650,000 when he ruled the traditional pro-am tournament on Tuesday. Teaming with amateur partners Manny Alarilla, Sunny Donato and Alex Ryu, they pooled a 55 and nipped Jay Bayron and teammates Nila Patricio, Oscar Patricio and Ed Abesamis in the countback.
Veteran Canadian campaigner Rick Gibson took third place with Shin Paul Chan, Joel Jose and Yuichiro Nakanishi with a 59.
Bayron’s runner-up finish also augured well for his bid for a second crown after coming from behind to snatch the ICTSI Splendido crown last March although the former Order of Merit (OOM) winner, along with Charles Hong and Paul Echavez, drew a late start at 11:30 a.m. on No. 10 when wind condition is expected to get worse.
Sumcad, in contrast, hopes to keep the momentum of his pro-am win as he tees off at 7:40 a.m. on No. 1 with Clyde Mondilla and Anthony Fernando while Gibson, the most consistent foreign bet on the circuit with a pair of top 10 finishes, is paired with Salvador and Jun Rates in the 7:50 a.m. flight, also on No. 1.
Rates, a shock winner at ICTSI John Hay, hopes to spring a surprise again this week although the 5-3 shotmaker will need to double his effort, especially off the tee to be able to set up good opportunities for his iron shots on the long layout.
Others fancied to contend for the crown in this fourth leg of the circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc., are Marvin Dumandan, Rey Pagunsan, Carl Santos-Ocampo, Rufino Bayron, Jhonnel Ababa, Ferdie Aunzo, Jessie Balasabas, Dante Becierra, Michael Bibat, Rico Depilo, Mhark Fernando, Anthony Fernando, James Ryan Lam and Mars Pucay.
Dumandan, for one, nearly snapped a long title drought with a final round 64 to finish second to Lascuna at Eagle Ridge two weeks ago.
Dumandan is currently in fourth place in the OOM race. He will tee off at 7:50 a.m. on No. 10 with Santos-Ocampo and Nilo Salahog.
Miñoza, winner of three tournaments last year, drew Pucay and Ababa in the 11:30 a.m. flight on No. 10, while Pagunsan is grouped with Rolando Marabe and Fredo Casiao in the 8 a.m. flight on No. 1.
The other backers of the event are Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Cleveland, Pacsports, Srixon, Callaway, Sharp and FootJoy and media partners Balls TV and ABS-CBN.