JHONNEL Ababa, Clyde Mondilla and Tony Lascuña head the cast as the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Challenge fires off at the Faldo course on Wednesday in Gen. Trias, Cavite.
The Philippine Golf Tour opens with top local players and several foreign aces out to make an impact in the circuit put up by ICTSI.
Ababa returns to the scene of his imposing triumph that snapped a long title spell, scoring a seven-stroke victory over Elmer Salvador at the Aoki layout in the PGT Asia leg last January. He sustained that winning form to Pradera Verde the following week and posted another emphatic win in another PGTA leg.
But he insists Faldo is a lot tougher than Aoki, especially its fairways with brown replacing green on much of the course at the onset of summer coupled with unreceptive greens.
“It’s a bit tougher here. You have to be accurate with your shots from the mound and on the fairways,” said Ababa.
Mondilla exudes confidence as the reigning PGT money leader seeks to recover from two poor stints at The Country Club Invitational and the Solaire Philippine Open.
“I don’t know but I really play bad at TCC. But here at Eagle Ridge, I know I’ve got a good chance. I know I can handle this course, even the winds,” said Mondilla, who tied for 24th at TCC Invitational and ended up tied for last in the Philippine Open.
Lascuña, meanwhile, sees a five-under card as the winning score in the P2.5 million tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. but adds one would need some luck to prevail given the tough course condition.
“The winds will be a factor but aside from talent, one also has to be lucky to win this week,” said Lascuña, who starts with Robert Pactolerin and Omar Dungca.
Ababa will start with Dino Villanueva and Darren Saqui, while Mondilla gets an early test with Salvador and Charles Hong.
Foreign players include PGT Qualifying Tournament topnotcher Lee Nicolas Paez Kang and Lexus Keoninh, Joshua Grenville-Wood of Great Britain and Manila-based Dutchman Guido Van der Valk.
Other locals expected to figure in the title chase in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology Inc. are Justin Quiban, Rene Menor, Jay Bayron, Michael Bibat, Marvin Dumandan, Frankie Miñoza, Mars Pucay, Orlan Sumcad, Jobim Carlos and Ira Alido.