DAMIEN Jordan returns in pursuit of a second Philippine Golf Tour Asia championship, seeking to become only the second player to score back-to-back victories as the ninth Aboitiz Invitational fires off on Wednesday at Wack Wack.
The Big-hitting Jordan won the Aboitiz Invitational last year at Orchard’s Palmer course last year and will have a different challenge for his title defense at Wack Wack’s East Course which puts premiun on accuracy more than length, especially in the presence of the wind.
Namchok Tantipokhakul won the opener at Luisita, before Wisut Artjanawat won in Taiwan. Angelo Que topped the Manila Southwoods leg but will not be seeing action at Wack Wack.
Jay Bayron spearheads the local challenge with the veteran Davaoeño shotmaker looking to regain the crown he won when the event was first held at Wack Wack in 2016 and seeking a record third Aboitiz Invitational title.
Bayron topped the inaugural event in its home base in Cebu in 2011.
Meanwhile, a select group of pros will test the East layout one last time in the traditional pro-am tournament on Tuesday where they will be paired with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers including ICTSI, PLDT Enterprise, Meralco, BDO and PGT Asia official apparel Pin High.
Also seeing action are Ratchapol Jantavara and Tawan Phongphun from Thailand, who finished 1-2 in this year’s PGTA Qualifying Tournament at Luisita, and compatriots Pasavee Lertvilai, Chonlatit Chuenboonngam, Kammalas Namuangruk, Donlapatchai Niyomchon, Natthapong Niyomchon, Tawit Polthai, Puk Pradittan, Varanyu Rattanaphiboonkij, Nirun Sae-Ueng and Pachara Sakulyong.
Other foreign bets ready to slug it out with the best for the top prize of $17,500 are Tarik Can, Sam Gillis, Lexus Keoninh, Charles Lee, Matt Lutz, Brett Munson, Joshua Salah and Sean Talmadge of the US, Aussies Tim Stewart, David Gleeson, Sam Gervinas, Fidel Concepcion and Jerram Chudleigh, Japanese Issei Mori, Keita Sudo, Nayoa Takahashi and Seiji Yanagisawa, and Shin Seung Woo, Park Jun Sung, Moon Seung Ryul, Lee Sang Min, Lee Hyun Jun, Jung Chae Won and Hwang Myung Chal of Korea.
Aside from Bayron, Lascuña and Salvador, other local aces aiming for a strong finish this week are four-time PGTA titlist Jhonnel Ababa, and former leg winners Jobim Carlos, Justin Quiban and James Ryan Lam.