Miguel Tabuena hopes to cash in on his impressive run of form at Luisita as he joins the elite international cast clashing in the $60,000 ICTSI Luisita Championship beginning tomorrow (Wednesday, May 3) at the Luisita Golf and Country Club.
The 22-year-old shotmaker swept two events at the Tarlac layout in 2015, running away with the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Open then besting a tough field to rule the rain-shortened Philippine Open. He, however, campaigned abroad and missed Luisita’s two-event hosting last year.
But the former Order of Merit winner is back in the local tour hunt after missing the Manila Masters leg last month due to injury, his bid this week boosted by a strong joint fifth finish in the Yeangder Heritage in Taiwan last Sunday.
Tabuena primes up for the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. as he leads the other top pros in the traditional pro-am tournament today (Tuesday) where they will be paired with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including ICTSI, BDO, KZG, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Sharp, Champion, Summit Mineral Water and PLDT.
But Tabuena is in for a tough challenge this week with a crack field out to foil his shot at the top $10,500 purse, including fellow local aces Tony Lascuña, Frankie Miñoza, Jay Bayron and Elmer Salvador along with Jhonnel Ababa, Mhark Fernando, Rufino Bayron, Gerald Rosales, Ferdie Aunzo, Cassius Casas, Orlan Sumcad and young turks Jobim Carlos, Justin Quiban and Ira Alido.
A slew of talented foreign shotmakers are also in the fold although they will not only be bracing for a showdown with the local aces but also the hot condition at one of the country’s toughest championship courses.
Reigning Solaire Philippine Open champion Steve Lewton of England heads the foreign challenge, along with Americans James Bowen, John Catlin, Paul Harris and Brett Munson, Koreans Park Jun Sung and Kim Sung Wook of Korea, Ryoma Miki, Yuta Sudo and Shota Ishikawa of Japan, South African Mathiam Keyser, Canadian Lee Sang Gyun, Finnish Teemu Putkonen and David Gleeson, Rhett McIvor, Jason Dawes and Nathan Park of Australia.
Dutch Guido Van der Valk is also raring to nail the elusive first win on the Philippine Golf Tour after blowing a number of title bids with late-round foldups. Others tipped to contend for the crown are Englishman Jake Shepherd, Thai Annop Tangkamolprasert, Japaese Narutoshi Yamaoka, Bangladeshis Mollah Zamal, MD Shakha Sohel, MD Dulal Hossain, MD Jakir Jakiruzaman and MD Ismail, and Indonesian Sujarwo.
After Luisita, the tour heads to Orchard in Cavite on May 10-13 before Manila Southwoods hosts the next stop on May 17-20 while the Philippine Masters revival is set on May 24-27 at its home at the Villamor Golf Club in Pasay, capping a busy month-long schedule in this year’s PGT calendar.