JAPAN Tour campaigner Juvic Pagunsan makes a surprise appearance on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour as he joins the P1 million Calatagan Challenge beginning on Wednesday at the Calatagan Golf and Country Club in Batangas.
Pagunsan, now based in Japan after topping last year’s Asian Tour Order of Merit, opted to take a much-deserved break from the Japan PGA where he turned in three Top 10 finishes in 17 tournaments, including a near-miss in the Japan Open 10 days ago.
He appeared headed for a breakthrough win but dropped three shots in the last two holes and yielded the crown to Kenichi Kuboya.
The Filipino golf star missed the cut the following week at the Bridgestone Open in Chiba, prompting him to take a respite and rekindle his ties with the local pros.
Pagunsan's entry easily makes the battle for the top P200,000 purse a wide-open one.
Elmer Salvador also rejoins the Tour after a two-month long campaign on the Asian Tour, while a host of others, including defending champion Jhonnel Ababa, and first-time winners Carl Santos-Ocampo and Charles Hong, are also seeing action in this 13th leg of the 15-stage circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Winner of the Sherwood Hills Classic and Aboitiz Invitational in Cebu, Salvador didn’t have much success on the Asian Tour with two missed cuts and a best finish of joint 29th in the Taiwan Masters.
Still, the 43-year-old shotmaker remains one of the chief contenders for the crown in the 54-hole tournament put up by International Container Terminal Services, Inc.
But Pagunsan and Salvador will be taking on a field raring to go following a month-long break on the country’s premier pro golf circuit, including Santos-Ocampo, who edged James Ryan Lam and Randy Garalde in a playoff to annex his maiden victory at ICTSI Ranchos Palos Verdes Classic last month.
Santos-Ocampo’s win came after Hong posted his first victory on the tour.