CHARLES Hong hopes to ride the momentum of his big victory at ICTSI Sherwood Hills Golf Classic as he headlines the star-studded field slugging it out for top honors in the ICTSI Valley Golf Challenge firing off on Wednesday (May 7) at the Valley Golf Club in Antipolo.
Hong outlasted young Micah Shin in a thrilling backside duel to win the first of four P3.5 million tournaments lined up in this year’s ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, boosting his confidence heading to the P2 million tournament.
“I feel great going into Valley,” said Hong after nailing his second career win, the first coming two years ago when he nipped Richard Sinfuego to rule the ICTSI Pueblo de Oro leg. “But not overly confident. I’m still putting in the necessary practice.”
He stressed the need to improve on his driving which will be crucial in his back-to-back title bid on a tight course like Valley and against the cream of the local pro crop.
“I need to improve on my driving since Valley’s fairways are really narrow so it’s very important,” he said.
Not only did he win a whopping P650,000 purse at Sherwood but Hong also moved up to No. 2 in the Order of Merit ranking with an P845,930 earnings, just behind absentee Tony Lascuna’s P885,000 winnings.
But Lascuna, who skipped the event to resume his campaign on the Asian Tour, is expected to re-join the circuit sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. along with Angelo Que, Miguel Tabuena and Cassius Casas, ensuring another down-to-the-wire battle for the crown in the fifth leg of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Shin, meanwhile, will also be going to event oozing with confidence despite his failed title bid at Sherwood, with the setback expected to toughen up the 17-year-old sophomore pro as he guns for a breakthrough win.
Meanwhile, Hong and the other leading pros will test the par-72 layout in the traditional pro-am tournament on May 6 along with their respective amateur partners from the event’s chief backers, including title sponsor International Container Terminal Services, Inc. and 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.
Others tipped to contend for the top P360,000 purse are ICTSI Splendido leg winner Jay Bayron, John Hay stage champion Jun Rates, Elmer Salvador, Zanie Boy Gialon, Randy Garalde, Mars Pucay, Jessie Balasabas, Gerald Rosales, Clyde Mondilla, Anthony Fernando, Marvin Dumandan and Frankie Minoza.
Also fancied to crowd the favorites is Valley pro Benjie Magada along with Canadian Rick Gibson, Dutch Guido Van Der Valk and Koreans Kim Chang Hoi, Park Jun Song and Nam Ji Soo.