FOCUS will be on local hero and Japan Senior Open champion Frankie Miñoza, young star Miguel Tabuena and veteran Mars Pucay as the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour goes to Bukidnon for the P1 million Del Monte Championship teeing off Wednesday.
Miñoza, winner of The Country Club Invitational early this year and joint fourth at Rancho Palos Verdes last week, is one of the top favorites due to his familiarity with the layout where he practically grew up.
Tabuena, winner of the season opener at Sherwood, is coming off a strong joint fifth place finish in the Templer Park Masters of the Asian Development Tour in Malaysia last week.
Pucay, seeking to snap a year-long victory drought after topping the Iloilo leg last year, also saw action in Kuala Lumpur where he wound up 11th and will be among the players to watch at Del Monte, which last hosted the Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.-organized circuit in 2011.
The three will be battling a star-studded field that includes last year’s Order of Merit winner and recent Calatagan leg champion Tony Lascuna, John Hay stage champion Jay Bayron, and last week’s Palos Verdes leg winner Michael Bibat.
The leading pros test the par-72 mountain-top layout in Tuesday’s traditional pro-am tournament as they team up with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp.
While Tabuena, Lascuna, Bayron and Bibat chase their second titles, top players looking to nail their first win in the season include former Order of Merit winner Elmer Salvador, 2011 three-leg winner Jhonnel Ababa, Rufino Bayron, Ferdie Aunzo, Mhark Fernando.
Also vying for the top prize of P200,000 in the 54-hole tournament sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. are Carl Santos-Ocampo and Charles Hong, who won their maiden titles on the local pro circuit last year.
Cassius Casas and Richard Sinfuego are also out on separate missions – the former hoping to score a repeat after snatching the Del Monte leg crown and the latter seeking redemption after blowing what had appeared to be a won tournament in 2011.
Sinfuego had the lead going to the last hole but blew it – and the title – after he was disqualified along with two others on a final hole infraction, enabling Casas to snatch the crown.