Miguel Tabuena sets out for a “double” in the season-ending leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour —shooting for the title in the P2.5 million ICTSI Wack Wack Championship which fires off today at Wack Wack’s East Course and the coveted Order of Merit (OOM) crown.
With reigning OOM champion and current leader Tony Lascuña out to represent the country in the World Cup with Angelo Que, also set this week in Australia, Ta¬buena actually needs to turn in at least a third-place finish in the 72-hole championship to clinch the OOM plum.
With a victory in the ICTSI PGT kickoff leg at Sherwood last March and a couple of runner-finishes, Tabuena pooled a total earnings of P1,477,527 to stay behind Lascuna, who had P1,682,332 bolstered by two wins and two runner-up finishes.
But a third place finish worth P210,000 would be enough to lift the 19-year-old Tabuena past Lascuña in the battle for this year’s overall individual honors in the circuit sponsored by ICTSI.
Tabuena, however, would need a strong start and a stronger finish to accomplish his mission and further enhance a promising career of one of the most talented players to have come out of the ranks in recent years.
A slew of shotmakers, however, will be out to foil his title and OOM drive, each raring to fuel their respective bids in the event closing out a busy season that featured 15 legs, including eight P2.5 million events and seven 54-hole tournaments.
Cassius Casas, for one, has vowed to come up with a follow-up to his morale-boosting victory at ICTSI Canlubang two weeks ago, a playoff win over another young gun Clyde Mondilla that snapped a three-year title drought.
“I feel good despite missing the cut last week,” said Casas, referring to his failed bid in last week’s Asian Tour event at Manila Southwoods.
“But at Wack Wack’s East course, anybody has a chance to win. It will be a question of shotmaking and making the putts,” added the Davaoeño shotmaker who reigned as Philippine Open champion at WW East in 2002.
Focus will also be on Charles Hong, the best Filipino finisher at Southwoods last Sunday whose final round seven-under 65 netted him a joint ninth place finish, a career-best on the Asian Tour.
Elmer Salvador, back on the local circuit after campaigning on the Asian Tour, is also tipped to contend for the top P450,000 purse although the top prize won’t be enough to propel him to OOM victory with his accumulated P1,087,776 earnings.
A host of title hungry players will also try to nail the elusive win one last time, including former three-leg winner Jhonnel Ababa, last year’s two-stage champioin Zanie Boy Gialon, Rufino Bayron, Ferdie Aunzo, Anthony Fernando, Jerson Balasabas, Jun Bernis, Marvin Dumandan, Rey Pagun¬san, Gerald Rosales, Mars Pucay and Richard Sinfuego.
Jay Bayron, who edged Ta¬buena in a playoff to snatch the ICTSI John Hay crown, is also expected to join the title chase along with Dutch Guido Van der Valk and Japan’s Tomo Yoshinaga, ensuring a four-day shootout.