CHARLES Hong goes for back-to-back titles and the lead in the Order of Merit when the P2 million ICTSI Valley Golf Challenge tees off Wednesday at the Valley Golf Club in Antipolo.
Hong pocketed P650,000 when he won at Sherwood and is now just P39,000 off leader Tony Lascuna in the circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
Lascuna is back after seeing action in two tournaments on the Asian Tour, raring to nail his first win, his confidence boosted by a joint 11th place finish at The Championship in Singapore last Sunday where he won P1 million.
“I’m in good shape, my ball-striking and iron game are quite okay but I still need to polish my putting which could spell the difference here,” said Lascuna after yesterday’s pro-am tournament. “But it will be tough with so many good players in the field.”
Lascuna will be in an early flight with Jhonnel Ababa and Canada’s Rick Gibson, while Hong tees off before noon with Anthony Fernando and Miguel Tabuena.
Jay Bayron, winner at Splendido, also goes for a second leg win and will start before noon with with Ferdie Aunzo and Zanie Boy Gialon.
Jun Rates winner at John Hay, is grouped with long hitting Rey Pagunsan and Clyde Mondilla in a late morning flight.
Mondilla won the pro-am tournament with Bernie Gatapia, Joaqs Tolentino and Cecil Esguerra, the group scoring 10-under 132 to foil Lascuna, Rey Raquel, Jun Lucas and Edgar Quiao in the countback.
Elmer Salvador, along with JB Borromeo, Mike Liamzon and Rudy Panaguiton, placed third with a 136.
Rufino Bayron, who won at Valley Golf as an amateur in 2008, is also tipped to contend for the top P360,000 prize in the fifth leg of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Nike Golf, KZG, Titleist, Cleveland, Pacsports, Srixon, Callaway, Sharp and FootJoy.
Custom Clubmakers, the pioneer and the only certified professional clubmakers in the country, is also offering P50,000 for the Player of the Year award at the end of the season.