MHARK FERNANDO shoots for back-to-back titles when the Philippine Golf Tour holds the P1 million ICTSI Canlubang Golf Invitational starting on Wednesday at Cangolf’s North Course in Laguna.
Fernando won by three at the Riviera Classic, ending a two-year title drought and moving up to No. 8 in the Order of Merit after pocketing the top prize of P450,000.
Out to foil Fernando’s bid to duplicate Frankie Miñoza’s back-to-back title romp at Del Monte and Pueblo de Oro are several players raring to nail their first win led by his former Cangolf buddies who honed their talent and skills on the long, challenging layout.
Jhonnel Ababa is hoping to snap a two-year drought after racking up three victories in 2011. With two runner-up finishes and one third-place effort this year, Ababa is confident of finally pulling it off on a course he calls home.
Jessie Balasabas is also hoping for a big win after falling short at Riviera, while also in the field are Jun Bernis, Rufino Bayron, Ferdie Aunzo, Dante Becierra, Anthony Fernando, Charles Hong, Rey Pagunsan, Cassius Casas, Richard Sinfuego, Gerald Rosales, Elmer Saban and last year’s winner Zanie Boy Gialon.
With the top five in the Order of Merit opting to continue their campaign on the Asian Tour in the Indian Open also slated this week, the battle for the top prize of P200,000 is expected to be fierce.
No. 6 Carl Santos-Ocampo is in the field and Mars Pucay has also re-joined the local tour and is fancied to crowd the favorites for the elusive crown along with 2011 runaway winner Artemio Murakami, Edward Reyes, Orlan Sumcad, Arnold Villacencio, Clyde Mondilla, Japanese Toru Nakajima and Dutch Guido Van der Valk.
The leading pros see action in Tuesday’s pro-am tournament where they will team up with the amateurs from the event’s sponsors and chief backers including Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, FootJoy, Titleist, Sharp, BMW and Gergia Energy Foods.