An elite roster of 129 players, headed by the country’s top guns and a select international cast from the just-concluded Q-School, braces for a fierce showdown – all going for a strong start in the new season of the Philippine Golf Tour Asia which unwraps tomorrow (Tuesday, April 17) at the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac.
Reigning PGT Order of Merit winner Clyde Mondilla and fellow PGT Asia leg winners Tony Lascuña, Jhonnel Ababa, Justin Quiban and Rene Menor hope to extend the locals’ domination of the region’s newest circuit put up by ICTSI that saw the Filipinos sweep the eight legs of the tour’s inaugural season.
Though PGTA OOM champion Miguel Tabuena, who won two legs like Ababa, won’t be around to honor a previous commitment to play on the Japan PGA Tour also slated this week, the depth of the local roster remains as formidable as ever, all raring to slug it out with the best and the brightest players from at least 17 countries.
They include Thai Sattaya Supupramai, who hopes to ride the momentum of his exploits in the PGTA Q-School last Saturday, also at Luisita, where he pooled an impressive 14-under 274 total, along with compatriots Sorachut Hansapiban and Itthipat Buranatanyarat, who finished among the Top 5.
South African Mathiam Keyser, who placed second to Tabuena in the ICTSI Luisita Championship last year, is also tipped to figure in the title hunt in the $100,000 championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Guido Van der Valk is also expected to join the chase after the Manila-based Dutchman ruled the PGT kickoff leg at Eagle Ridge last month where he ended a long title search on the local circuit backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.
The other fancied foreign players are Nicolas Paez and John Michael O’Toole of the US, Thai Pasavee Lertvilai, Englishman Matt Killen, Aussie David Gleeson, Ian Andrew of Indonesia, Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia and Japanese Yuta Sudo.
Backing the locals’ bid in the 72-hole championship are Joenard Rates, Michael Bibat, Elmer Salvador, Jay Bayron, Jerson Balasabas, Jobim Carlos, Keanu Jahns, Zanieboy Gialon, Orlan Sumcad, Ira Alido, Marvin Dumandan, James Lam, Mhark Fernando, Ferdie Aunzo and Mars Pucay.
From eight legs in its inaugural season, the PGTI has lined up 10 events this year with Riviera hosting the second stop on May 30-June 2. Action shifts to the Manila Southwoods on June 5-8 then at Forest Hills on July 11-14, at the Orchard on Sept. 5-8, at Summit Point on Sept. 12-15 before heading back to Luisita on Oct. 17-20 for the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Open. Venues for the last three stages are still being finalized.