The crack Asian Development Tour field primes up not only for a four-day duel of shotmaking, iron play and putting with the local aces in the Aboitiz Invitational firing off on Wednesday but also with the Wack Wack East course that has been spruced up to championship form for a true test of golf.
Although relatively flat, the par-72, 7053-yard layout remains as tough as ever with its tight fairways, hazards that lurk in every corner and trifling putting surface tipped to bring out the best and worst from every player in the $100,000 event put up by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc.
It will also be a battle of wits with some holes requiring conservative play and patience, including the signature par-3 188-yard No. 8 with an elevated green more than 5 meters high with six bunkers, long considered as the “make-or-break” hole even for the season pros.
“We have been taking care of the East over the past months and have maintained its tough conditions up to this day,” said Sen. JV Ejercito, also the president of the former home of the Philippine Open.
“At least four holes would require conservative,” he added, referring to No. 8 and the last three holes at the back. “The usual long carry is needed but the fairways are tight, the roughs are in medium cut and the greens are difficult but fair.”
That should guarantee an action-packed duel among the men of the ADT, headed by all but one of the Top 10 players in the current ADT Order of Merit ranking and the country’s leading players, including two-time champion Elmer Salvador and former titlists Jay Bayron and Tony Lascuña.
Some of the leading players tested the course in yesterday’s pro-am while the rest will take their turn today, all hoping to at least familiarize themselves with the toughest holes, particularly from the first timers.
“It’s going to be tough but the Filipinos have the edge here, given our local knowledge of the course,” said Lascuna, taking the cudgels for the hosts in the absence of Rio-bound Miguel Tabuena, Angelo Que and last year’s champion Juvic Pagunsan.