AN international field of 112 pros set out for an explosive start in the ICTSI Manila Southwoods Championship on Tuesday at the Legends course in Carmona, Cavite.
“The course looks tough, especially with the erratic weather conditions. Mabigat ang bola,” said Jay Bayron, who ruled this event last year with a 26-under total.
The third leg of the circuit put up by ICTSI features Angelo Que and Miguel Tabuena, who are taking time out from their campaigns abroad to beef up the local roster headed by the red-hot Juvic Pagunsan.
“It’s difficult to feel so confident. The field is strong, anybody can go low at any given day,” said 2017 PGT top earner Clyde Mondilla, on a comeback from a recent injury that hampered his campaign after emerging the surprise winner in the Solaire Philippine Open at The Country Club in April.
“I’ll just play my game,” added the Del Monte ace, who also hopes to recall the form that netted him a one-stroke victory over Tabuena and Tony Lascuña at Southwoods in 2017.
“It’s going to be interesting. Despite the condition of the course, especially the thick roughs, I think a 20-under score will win here,” said American golfer Lexus Keoninh, a three-year local campaigner.
Jobim Carlos also joins the hunt for the top prize of US$17,500 (around P890,000) with the reigning PGT top earner entering the 72-hole championship brimming with confidence after a stint in Japan.
Namchok Tantipokhakul and Wisut Artjanawat are also seeing action, looking to sustain Thailand’s big start in the circuit after the former topped the kickoff leg at Luisita last April and the latter winning the first PGT Asia co-sanctioned event in Taiwan last May.
Pagunsan, meanwhile, is the hottest player in the field, winning three events in the Visayan swing of the PGT last month.
The former top earner in the Asian Tour skipped the pro-am event but remains a top favorite given his talent and skills that won him a pair of runaway triumphs in Bacolod and a playoff win over Michael Bibat in Iloilo.
Pagunsan starts with Malaysia’s Nicolas Fung and former PGT Asia leg winner David Gleeson of Australia.
Tabuena, playing his first local tournament this year, was drawn to start with Thailand’s Tawit Polthai and Fidel Concepcion of Australia.
Que drew a late start at 11:40 a.m. with American Brett Munson and Thailand’s Donlapatchai Niyomchoin in the tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by PLDT Enterprise, Meralco, BDO and PGT Asia official apparel Pin High.