The PGT Asia Tour, the region’s newest pro golf circuit, kicks off on Tuesday with the $100,000 Aboitiz Invitational 2017 featuring one of the strongest casts ever to clash in a locally-staged tournament in years.
The cream of the country’s pro crop and an elite international field that made the grade in the just-concluded PGTA Q-School at Luisita make up the 120-player field slugging it out for top honors in what promises to be four days of top-notch shotmaking at the Manila Southwoods’ Legends course in Carmona, Cavite.
Current Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit leader Tony Lascuña, No. 2 Clyde Mondilla, 2015 OOM winner Miguel Tabuena and Japan PGA Tour campaigner Angelo Que banner the local challenge bracing for a shootout with the likes of Thai Pasavee Lertvilai, who ran away with the low medal honors in the PGTA Q-School and second placer Seungjae Maeng and John Michael O’Toole of the US, Korean-American Micah Shin and Indonesians Joshua Wirawan and Elki Kow.
Focus will also be on Jay Bayron, who edged Malaysian Gavin Green to win last year’s staging of the Aboitiz Invitational at Wack Wack, his second after ruling the inaugural staging of what has become a major event, sponsored by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc., on the PGT calendar in Cebu in 2011.
Six other $100,000 championships have been lined up for the kickoff season of the PGT Asia Tour, put up by PGT chief sponsor International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) to further develop the local pros’ games and at the same time make the Philippines a leading international golfing destination.
Eight legs are actually on tap for the PGTA inaugural season, backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc., with the last offering a total pot of $300,000, according to the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. In 2018, a total of US$1.7 million will be staked while the 2019 PGTA will offer a US$2 million prize fund with plans to further increase the purse in the future.
More events for each of the next two years are also being finalized and talks to hold future legs in other parts of Asia, particularly Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, are also ongoing.
Luisita will host the second stop on Sept. 6-9 for the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Open while the third leg will be held Sept. 13-16 for the ICTSI Riviera Championship at the Riviera in Silang, Cavite.
Action swings to the fabled Wack Wack in Mandaluyong City for the ICTSI Wack Wack Challenge on Nov. 15-18, then Splendido Taal in Laurel, Batangas on Nov. 29-Dec. 2. Still to be determined are the venues for the seventh leg set Dec. 6-9 and the eighth leg scheduled early next year.
The initial circuit is geared towards offering golfers from the Philippines, Asia and other parts of the world another platform on which to play and at the same time to complement each country’s national golf tour and existing regional circuits.