Micah Shin hopes to ride the momentum of his breakthrough victory at Luisita as he goes for a second straight crown to close out the Philippine Golf Tour season, heading the elite field at the ICTSI Tournament Players Championship at Wack Wack Golf and Country Club in Mandaluyong starting on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old Shin bucked a late mishap to edge Tony Lascuña by two and end a three-year quest for a first pro crown in the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Open over the weekend, making him the marked player when the PGT season winds up with the P3.5 million championship sponsored by ICTSI at the fabled WW’s East.
“It took me three years to win and I hope I can do it again,” said the reed-thin Korean-American, whose pro campaign has been marred by late-round collapses until he put together a near-solid 65 in the third round at Luisita and hung tough the rest of the way.
But to complete a back-to-back feat, Shin will need a lot of effort plus luck to defuse the expected charge of his rivals, particularly Lascuña, Jay Bayron and Clyde Mondilla, who will not only be going all-out for the TPC crown but also for the Order of Merit title in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Lascuña actually upped his OOM lead with a P3,045,948 in winnings, counting his runner-up purse of P320,000 at Luisita, with Mondilla, who tied for third with Elmer Salvador, surging past Bayron for No. 2 with earnings of P2,557,254.
Bayron, who settled for fifth worth P110,000, slid to third but remained in the OOM race with 2,543,028 in winnings with the TPC offering a top purse of P650,000.
“This is going to be exciting but I need to stay focused and try to get my putting work to assure myself of the OOM title,” said Lascuña, who had held the coveted individual crown for three years from 2012 until Miguel Tabuena put on a breakout season of four victories to snare last year’s OOM crown.
But focus will be on Shin, who finished tied for ninth in the last tournament at Wack Wack – the Aboitiz Invitational won by Bayron last month. But he picked up from there, finishing joint third at Riviera, again won by Bayron, and shared fourth at Splendido before nailing it down at Luisita.
Meanwhile, Shin, Lascuña, Mondilla and Bayron lead the other local and foreign pros in tomorrow’s pro-am where they will be joined by officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Summit Mineral Water, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade, Sharp, Champion, Ping and Yamaha.
They include Jhonnel Ababa, Michael Bibat, Jobin Carlos, Cassius Casas, Marvin Dumandan, Mhark Fernando, Charles Hong, Zanieboy Gialon, Frankie Miñoza, Mars Pucay and Salvador among others.