Miguel Tabuena tries to make up for his last-hole meltdown at Southwoods last Sunday as he shoots for a second PGT Asia crown against a crack international field in the ICTSI Wack Wack Championship reeling off today at WW East course in Mandaluyong.
Tabuena edged Angelo Que by one to rule the kickoff leg of the inaugural staging of the region’s newest circuit, also at Southwoods last August, before the Rio Olympian shifted his campaign abroad in search of world ranking points.
He could’ve headed for this week’s $100,000 event a winner but fumbled at the finish, three-putting the par-5 18th of Southwoods’ Masters course for bogey and missing even the playoff which young Korean-American Micah Shin won over Thai Arnond Vongvanij.
But the 23-year-old former Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit winner shrugged off the setback, saying it was a “learning experience” and instead set his sights on the next PGTA crown to be disputed over a tight, demanding course that requires accuracy more than length.
Emphasis will indeed be on precision with the 106-player field, including 43 foreign aces from 16 countries, bracing for four days of battle of wits and nerves at one of the country’s toughest courses and home to the Philippine Open.
Tabuena, in fact, will be tested right in the first round as he drew former many-time PGT OOM winner Tony Lascuña and PGTA Splendido leg champion Rene Menor in the featured 7:20 a.m. flight on No. 1.
They will be followed by another explosive group composed of newly-crown OOM winner Clyde Mondilla, Michael Bibat and Thai Pasavee Lertvilai, whom Menor nipped in the playoff in Tagaytay last September.
Mondilla, winner of four legs in the PGT, is actually gunning for a second straight PGTA title after nipping Bibat and Korean amateur Tom Kim at Riviera, also last September, before the circuit, put up by ICTSI and organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. took a two-month break.
Justin Quiban, who also turned in an impressive joint fifth place effort at Southwoods last Sunday, is also fancied to contend this week along with fellow young guns Jobim Carlos, Ira Alido and Keanu Jahns.
Wisut Artjanawat, another Thai entry who placed seventh in the kickoff leg at Southwoods, and Dutchman Guido Van der Valk, who wound up sixth at Riviera, are also in the roster, along with James Bowen, Paul Harris and Lexus Keoninh of the US, Dengshan Koh and Choo Tze Huang of Singapore, and Aussies David Gleeson, Andrew Campbell and Rick Coleman.
Artjanawat will play alongside Rufino Bayron and Ferdie Aunzo at 7:45 a.m. on No. 10 while Van der Valk, who has had a number of cracks at the PGT crown only to waver in the clutch, hopes to put it all together this time as he opens his bid against Elmer Salvador and Jhonnel Ababa at 7:30 a.m., also on the first hole.
Others tipped to contend for the top $17,500 purse in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc. are veteran campaigners Charles Hong, Zanieboy Gialon, Orlan Sumcad, Mhark Fernando and Marvin Dumandan.