Miguel Tabuena rejoins the PGT Asia Tour next week, bracing for a four-day shootout with the country’s best and a slew of foreign aces in pursuit of a second crown in the ICTSI Wack Wack Championship set November 15 at the fabled WW East layout in Mandaluyong.
Tabuena topped the kickoff leg of the inaugural staging of the region’s newest circuit last August, besting Angelo Que by one in the Aboitiz Invitational before the former Rio Olympian shifted his campaign abroad in search of world ranking points.
And back on the course where he nailed the first PGTA victory, the 23-year-old shotmaker looms as the marked player again in the $100,000 championship put up by ICTSI and serving as the fourth leg of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
But Tabuena, who also won the ICTSI Open Championship at WW in 2015, will be taking on a souped-up field raring to spoil his bid, including the two other PGTA winners – Rene Menor, who nipped Thai Pasavee Lertvilai and American John Michael O’Toole in sudden death at Splendido and this year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion Clyde Mondilla, who held off Michael Bibat and Korean amateur Tom Kim at Riviera.
Jay Bayron, who also won at WW in last year’s Aboitiz Invitational where he nipped Malaysian ace Gavin Green, is also in the fold along with veteran campaigners Elmer Salvador, Jhonnel Ababa, Charles Hong, Zanieboy Gialon, Ferdie Aunzo, Orlan Sumcad, Mhark Fernando, Gerald Rosales, Marvin Dumandan and many-time PGT OOM winner Tony Lascuña.
Jobim Carlos, Justin Quiban, Ira Alido and Keanu Jahns, on the other hand, head the young guns in the 72-hole championship backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.
Lertvilai will also be back, ready to make up for his playoff setback to Menor along with compatriots Wisut Artjanawat, Parama Chansue, Tommy Mansuwan and Natchanon Varaponkittirat.
Players from 16 other countries are also in the roster, including James Bowen, Paul Harris, Lexus Keoninh and Micah Shin of the US, Dengshan Koh and Choo Tze Huang of Singapore, Aussies David Gleeson, Andrew Campbell and Rick Coleman.
Meanwhile, the Luisita Golf and Country Club in Tarlac, where Tabuena has also racked up a number of titles, including the Philippine Open in 2015, will host the next PGTA leg on Nov. 29-Dec. 2.
ICTSI, which revived the local pro golf circuit in 2009 and turned it to become Southeast Asia’s largest national circuit, will also put up a total prize of US$1.7 million in 2018 and US$2 million in 2019 with plans to further increase the purse in the future.