CARL Santos-Ocampo returns to the scene of his breakthrough pro victory, hopeful of duplicating his feat against a field toughened by the presence of a number of the tour’s big guns in the ICTSI Rancho Palos Verdes Classic unfolding Wednesday at Rancho Palos Verdes Golf and Recreational Estates in Davao City.
With some of the fancied bets out for the Asian Tour campaign, Santos-Ocampo nailed his maiden win on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour the hard way, nipping James Ryan Lam and Randy Garalde on the second playoff hole in last year’s edition of the annual tournament organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
But he is expected to face a stiffer challenge in his title-retention bid as two of this year’s tour’s leg winners have signed up to join the hunt in the P1 million event sponsored by ICTSI, including John Hay stage playoff winner Jay Bayron and Calatagan runaway champion Tony Lascuna.
Still, Santos-Ocampo is in some of kind of a momentum, coming off a third-place finish in the ICTSI Orchard Championship won by Angelo Que last month and helping the North squad get past South in The Duel three weeks ago at Alabang.
The Fil-Am bet’s third-place effort at Orchard was actually his best so far as he struggled a bit in the early going of the season, finishing joint 12th at ICTSI Sherwood, sharing 19th place at Solaire, winding up tied for 17th at John Hay and ending up joint 24th at Calatagan.
Meanwhile, Santos-Ocampo, Bayron and Lascuna head the other leading pros in Tuesday’s traditional pro-am tournament along with officials and guests of the sponsoring ICTSI and the event’s chief backers Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp.
Joining the title chase in the fifth leg of the ICTSI-PGT are Jhonnel Ababa, Ferdie Aunzo, Jerson Balasabas, Rufino Bayron, Jun Bernis, Michael Bibat, Cassius Casas, Chris delos Santos, Marvin Dumandan, and Anthony Fernando.