Carmona, Cavite—Premium will be on shotmaking with the long hitters from the crack international field expected to lead to assault on the Legends course in today’s (Tuesday, June 5) start of the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Golf Championship here.
Jobim Carlos sets out for a second crown in as many weeks, Tony Lascuña seeks to finally nail the elusive win and Angelo Que aims to make a mark in a rare stint on the Philippine Golf Tour Asia. With the rest of the stellar 115-player cast, including 59 foreign aces, all primed up for the $100,000 event, expect a shootout right in the opener of the third leg of Season 2 of the region’s newest circuit.
The bunker-laden 7,171-yard course could be there for the taking for the tour’s power hitters with cloudy skies and wind speed estimated at 8km/hr in the next two days. But the course’s last line of defense could bring out the best—or the worst—from the elite bidders with pin placements expected to be placed in strategic spots in all four days of the championship put up by ICTSI.
The young Carlos hopes to cash in on his good form that netted him a breakthrough victory in the PGTA ICTSI Riviera Classic last weekend but the former amateur hotshot, who had earlier won a team crown in the National Pro-am, sees a tougher outing this time with the rest eager to foil his drive for another crown.
“It’s great to finally get a solo win on the tour. I like how my game is going but it feels great knowing that I can handle myself when I’m in contention,” said Carlos. “I feel comfortable here (at Southwoods) but it’s tough to win here because of how low the scores could get on this course. You really have to make birdies.”
Lascuña, for one, is itching to end a string of Top 8 finishes in the young season, including a runner-up feat at Riviera and a third place effort in the Philippine Masters two weeks ago.
“I think I’m due for a win,” said the former three-time PGT Order of Merit winner, who is also expected to bank on his local knowledge of the course he calls home.
So does Que, who honed his skills and talent on the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout on his way to winning three Asian Tour titles, including the Philippine Open, before campaigning on the Japan PGA Tour.
But with the lucrative circuit on a break this week, Que pounced on the chance to be with his fellow local players and join the hunt for the top $17,500 purse in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.
But a slew of foreign aces are looking to match the locals’ expected strong start, led by South African Mathiam Keyser, Englishman Matt Killen, American John Michael O’Toole, Australian Nathan Park, Koreans Park Jun Sung and Lee Song and Frenchman Janne Kaske.
Australian David Gleeson, who ended a seven-year title spell with a playoff victory over Erwin Arcillas last April but struggled to finish joint 16th at Riviera, is also eyeing a big comeback along with those who missed the cut last week, including this year’s PGT Eagle Ridge leg winner Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands, Thai Tommy Mansuwan, Andrew Campbell of Australia, Thai Idtiphat Silasuwan and local aces Elmer Salvador, Marvin Dumandan, Ira Alido, Orlan Sumcad, Joenard Rates and Rene Menor.
Jerson Balasabas, who also scored his maiden win in the Philippine Masters but failed to advance at Riviera, also vowed to rebound strong while reigning PGT OOM champion Clyde Mondilla hopes to finally recover from a poor form that led to a number of poor finishes and missed cut stints in the early going of the golfing season.