Wide-open race up at ICTSI Royal Northwoods

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With the big guns out on the Asian Tour, the chase for the top P270,000 purse in the ICTSI Royal Northwoods Championship is expected to be fierce when the P1.5 million event is fired off beginning Wednesday at the Royal Northwoods Golf Club in San Rafael, Bulacan.

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Tony Lascuña, winner of the last three legs of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, is busy campaigning abroad the next three weeks along with Elmer Salvador, Angelo Que, Miguel Tabuena, Jay Bayron and Cassius Casas but the depth of the competing field remains as talent-laden as ever with former winners Ferdie Aunzo and Marvin Dumandan leading the cast in the 13th leg of the 16-stage circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.

Aunzo outlasted Rey Pagunsan and won by one for his maiden win in the inaugural season of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. in 2009 but the former amateur standout went on a slump, missing couple of chances for a second pro crown while struggling the rest of the way. He wound up joint 16th in last week’s ICTSI Pilipinas Invitational at Manila Southwoods.

But he hopes to put it all together this time and give himself a crack at the elusive crown.

Dumandan reigned here in 2010, when he nipped Lascuña on the second playoff hole. But like Aunzo, the former national team mainstay’s game also took a downswing although he turned in a ninth place finish at Southwoods last week.

ICTSI Sherwood Hills champion Charles Hong is also in the fold along with ICTSI Orchard Championship winner Rufino Bayron, ICTSI John Hay leg titlist Jun Rates, recent Asean PGA Tour leg champion Jhonnel Ababa, Michael Bibat, Anthony Fernando, Mhark Fernando, Zanie Boy Gialon and Mars Pucay.

Meanwhile, the leading pros along with the guests and amateur players of the event’s chief backers will test the par-72 bunker-laden layout for the last time in Tuesday traditional pro-am tournament.

Others seeing action in the 72-hole championship are Robert Pactolerin, Clyde Mondilla, Artemio Murakami, Edward Reyes, Gerald Rosales, Elmer Saban, Orlan Sumcad, Arnold Villacencio, Pagunsan and Dutch Guido Van der Valk.

From Royal Northwoods, the circuit goes to Batangas for the ICTSI Summit Point Golf Classic on October 8 to 11 at the Summit Point and Country Club while Canlubang will host the penultimate leg for the ICTSI Canlubang Golf Invitational on October 21 to 24.

The circuit winds up on November 12 to 14 at Wack Wack for the ICTSI Tournament Players’ Championship, also the last P3.5 million event in this year’s ICTSI PGT.

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