Miguel Tabuena hopes to come out strong coming off a break to heal an aching back, headlining the local challenge against a crack international field in the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship ADT unfolding Wednesday (April 13) at the Legends course in Carmona, Cavite.
Tabuena, who dominated the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour’s kickoff leg at Anvaya Cove last February, withdrew in the second round of the PGT second leg at Luisita two weeks ago, citing back pains partly due to a hectic campaign here and abroad to open the season. He was very much in contention at Luisita with a bogey-free three-under card after 22 holes but just couldn’t stand the pain and had to pull out.
Tony Lascuña went on to win the crown, beating Kroean Park Jun Hyeok by four.
But the 21-year-old Tabuena said he’s ready to resume his winning ways although he will be up not only against his local counterparts, including Lascuña, but also versus a talent-laden foreign field led by Asian Development Tour winners John Michael O’Toole and Josh Salah of the US, Malaysiam Gavin Green, Japanese Shunya Takeyasu and Thais Poom Saksansin, Wisut Artjanawat, Thammanoon Sriroj, Rattanon Wanasrichan, Nirun Sae-Ueng and Itthipat Buranatanyarat.
The 22-year-old Buranatanyarat is actually priming up for his title defense in the ICTSI Sherwood Hills Classic next week, which caps ADT’s two leg swing in the country, making him an instant contender for the top $10,500 purse in the $60,000 event put up by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Others in the fold are Finnish Janne Kaske, India’s Chikkarangappa S., Aussie Jake Stirlin, New Zealand’s Sean Riordan and Scot James Byrne, all former leg winners in the seven-year circuit, the farm league of the Asian Tour.
Still, with Tabuena in good health and top form, the young Filipino ace is fancied to contend in the four-day championship co-organized by the ADT and Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, adidas, KZG, Sharp, Summit, Srixon, Pacsports, TaylorMade and Champion.
A total of 144 players will compete in each ADT event with the field split between the ADT and the Philippine Golf Tour. Other local players seeing action are Jay Bayron, Elmer Salvador, Clyde Mondilla, Cassius Casas, Jhonnel Ababa, Zanieboy Gialon, Charles Hong, Rufino Bayron, Ferdie Aunzo, Marvin Dumandan, Michael Bibat and Anthony Fernando.
The two ADT events also stake world ranking points where players in the region could earn their spots in Rio de Janeiro by earning Official World Golf Ranking points through the Asian Tour and ADT. Tabuena is currently at No. 36 while Angelo Que, who will be campaigning in the Japan PGA Tour, is at No. 49.
The 60 players will get spots in the Rio Games.