Premium will be on power and putting as the men of the tour, headed by Olympic-bound Miguel Tabuena and streaking Tony Lascuña, resume their hunt for Philippine Golf Tour glory in the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic beginning today at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club in Bacolod.
While Tabuena and a slew of others will opt to attack the relatively short 6,197-yard, par-70 layout, and try to gun down birdies in bunches, Lascuña said he’d go for a conservative approach and bank on his superb putting that has carried him to three victories in the last three legs of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI.
“I’m very eager to play and in top shape,” said Tabuena, back in the local hunt since the ICTSI Manila Masters at Eastridge last May. “I will attack every hole, especially the reachable par-4s.”
Meanwhile, Tabuena, priming up for next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, backed up his claim to enjoying top form by winning yesterday’s pro-am tournament, teaming up with Jess Maestral, Jason Villarosa and Lito Maestral to pool a 17-under 53 and beat Cassius Casas, Mike Ortiz, Kenneth Valderama and Jack Alonso by two.
Charles Hong, with partners Marlowe Cortez, Mark Cuaycong and Jeffrey Infante, also shot a 55 but lost in the countback to Casas’ group.
The 21-year-old Tabuena, the reigning Order of Merit champion, said his target is to get to 20-under as he seeks a follow-up to his Anvaya Invitational romp in the kickoff leg of this year’s circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. last February.
In contrast, Lascuña said he will play it safe all throughout, aware of the challenges and terrors lurking on the tight, hazard-laden, tree-lined layout, having reigned here with a 12-under card when NOGCC, the former Marapara layout, last hosted a PGT event in 2014.
“I’ll just beat them on the putting surface,” said Lascuña, who has brandished awesome touch on the greens that netted him victories at Eagle Ridge, Forest Hills and Bacolod, including a 12-foot putt off the fringe to edge Dutch Guido Van der Valk and American Micah Shin in a playoff on Saturday in Binitin.
What makes the P1.5 million event doubly interesting is that the two aces are paired in the featured 8:30 a.m. flight on No. 1, together with Del Monte star and two-leg winner Clyde Mondilla, guaranteeing an early showcase of shotmaking, iron game and putting among three of the country’s leading players.