A shootout looms among the fancied bets right in the opener of the ICTSI Calatagan Invitational today with Clyde Mondilla, Mhark Fernando and Tony Lascuña slugging it out in the featured threesome at the Calatagan Golf Club in Calatagan, Batangas.
Mondilla is coming off a playoff win over Jobim Carlos at Eastridge two weeks ago while Fernando and Lascuña ruled the event when it was staged here last in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
That should make their 8:10 a.m. start on No. 10 worth watching with Mondilla brimming with confidence and the two others out to test the mettle of the fast-rising 23-year-old star from Del Monte who has racked up four victories in a young pro career.
“I feel good and I’m con fident to score another victory,” said Mondilla, who, however, will be hard-pressed to complete a back-to-back feat given the depth of the competing field in the P2 million event sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
‘We’re all aiming for a win here and that should make it tougher,” said Lascuna, adding that putting will be the key in this sixth leg of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. “I just hope my putting will click unlike at Eastridge where I really struggled in all four days.”
Lascuna wound up tied for 11th at Manila Masters but the former three-time Order of Merit winner remains upbeat of his chances, together with Fernando, who beat Rufino Bayron by five to dominate the 2012 edition of this event.
Jhonnel Ababa and Jerson Balasabas, who with Fernando trained here for years under now-defunct National Caddies Program, are expected to contend for the top P360,000 purse given their familiarity with the up-and-down layout whose tight fairways require accurate shots off the mound.
In fact, Mondilla said he might keep his driver in the bag and would opt for a 3-wood or rescue off the tee to keep the ball in play and minimize his mistakes on a demanding course especially in the presence of the wind.
Balasabas kicks off his bid at 8:30 a.m. on No. 1 in the company of Dante Becierra and Miko Alejandro while Ababa clashes with Jay Bayron and Rico Depilo in the next group at 8:40 a.m.
Meanwhile, Albin Engino served notice of his title bid by topping yesterday’s pro-am where he steered his team made up of Raul Montealto, Ronnie Guico and Emmanuel Rabe to a winning 16-under 56 total. They edged Orlan Sumcad and teammates Rupert Sison, Dinno de Vera and Ely Camiling by one while Zanieboy Gialon, along with Elimar Caranguian, Carlos Tuason and Joel Iligan also pooled a 57 but lost in the countback for runner-up honors.
Engino and Gialon will start at 8 a.m. with Charles Hong on No. 1 while the long-hitting Sumcad drew Gerald Rosales and Nilo Salahog at 7:40 a.m., also on the first hole.
In other featured groups, Elmer Salvador, Joenard Rates and Rene Menor will tee off at 8:20 a.m. at the back to be followed by Rufino Bayron, Mars Pucay and rookie pro Justin Quiban while Cassius Casas is paired with Erwin Arcillas and Korean Jang Bong Hwan at 7:20 a.m. on No. 1.