JUVIC Pagunsan decided to go for a third straight title on the Philippine Golf Tour, bannering another international field in the ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge starting on Wednesday at the Iloilo Golf and Country Club in Sta. Barbara.
Pagunsan had earlier hinted at skipping this week’s event after sweeping the Bacolod legs in Binitin and Marapara the last two weeks to take a much-needed break. But the ace Negrense made a change of heart and took the first flight from Negros to Iloilo Monday to resume his hunt for another crown.
“I have rested and my wife is okay,” said Pagunsan, referring to his spouse, who fell ill last week that also prompted him to reconsider his decision to play and defend his crown in Negros Occidental Golf Classic.
“Now, I can fully concentrate on my game although I don’t want to sound so confident. But as always, I’ll give it my best shot,” added the smooth-swinging shotmaker who aiming to duplicate Tony Lascuña's three-peat feat at Eagle Ridge, Forest Hills and Bacolod in 2016.
Iloilo is the final stop in the Visayan swing of the circuit sponsored by ICTSI.
The 41-year-old Japan PGA Tour campaigner starts on Wednesday on No. 10 with Elmer Salvador and Teemu Putkonen of Finland.
Also vying for top honors are including James Ryan Lam and Nilo Salahog, runner-up and joint third placer, respectively, last week, along with Jhonnel Ababa, Tony Lascuña, Jay Bayron, Michael Bibat, Keanu Jahns, Ira Alido, Joenard Rates and Justin Quiban.
“I think I’ll go for the reachable par-4s but I have to play it smart,” said Lam.
Salahog stressed the need to endure the pressure to be posed by the elite field and the short but tricky course.
“I just have to play pressure-free and stay focused in all four days. Just make sure to hit the fairways and greens and make the most of the birdie chances,” said Salahog, seeking a breakthrough in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Lam will star with Rates and American golfer Pete Vilairatana, who tied for third in Negros.
Salahog plays with Arnold Villacencio and Thailand’s Tawan Phongphun in the event backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.