A RECORD 100 shotmakers vie for honors and the top prize of P270,000 as the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour comes off the wraps on Wednesday at Splendido Taal Golf Club in Tagaytay.
While players like teen star Miguel Tabuena, joint seventh in the Asian Tour’s Solaire Open last week, money list topnotcher Tony Lascuna, and veteran Frankie Miñoza are again dominating pre-tournament talk, no one is considered a prohibitive favorite against such a lineup of players.
The field in the Splendido Classic, which includes foreign parbusters, is the biggest in a tournament in the six-year history of the domestic tour.
Lascuna is teeing off early with fellow Asian Tour veteran campaigner Mars Pucay and Rufino Bayron, while Tabuena is grouped with Jhonnel Ababa and Charles Hong and will start before noon.
Minoza, winner of two PGT events last year, will tee off with defending champion Elmer Saban and former Asian Development Tour No. 1 Jay Bayron in the morning.
Cassius Casas, looking to bounce back after missing the cut in the Solaire Open, will start before noon with Mhark Fernando and Sweden’s Malcolm Kokocinski.
“I hope to strike back at Splendido although the field is strong. But I’ll do my best to atone for my missed-cut stint in Solaire,” said Casas, who won this year’s TCC Invitational and ruled the PGT’s Canlubang leg late last year.
The prize pot for the 72-hole tournament sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. is P1.5 million.
Japan’s Toru Nakajima, who humbled the local aces to win the Wack Wack Championship last November, is also among those to watch out for along with Guido Van der Valk of the Netherlands, Japan’s Tomokazu Yoshinaga and Miki Ryoma, Korea’s Kim Chang Hoi and Cho Byung Kyu and CJ Stjarnfalt of Sweden.
Also vying for top honors in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Cleveland, Pacsports, Srixon, Callaway, Sharp and FootJoy with Balls TV and ABS-CBN Sports+Action as media partners are Zanie Boy Gialon, Elmer Salvador, Carl Santos-Ocampo, Orlan Sumcad, Gerald Rosales, Jun Bernis, Jerson Balasabas, Michael Bibat, Anthony Fernando. Ferdie Aunzo, Dante Becierra and young guns John Kier Abdon, Art Arbole, Keanu Jahns and Andres Saldaña.
After the Splendido leg, the tour goes to Baguio next week for the ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship set March 26 to 29.
Eagle Ridge will host the third leg from April 8 to 11 with the fourth stage set on the adjacent Sherwood Hills Golf Club from April 23 to 26.