JUVIC Pagunsan takes a break from his Japan PGA Tour campaign to join the local aces in their hunt for the crown in the P1 million ICTSI Calatagan Challenge firing off Wednesday at the Calatagan Golf Club in Batangas.
Pagunsan was joint fourth in Tsuruya Open in Hyogo two weeks ago and battled from the brink of elimination to salvage a joint 21st place effort with a final round four-under 66 in The Crowns in Aichi on Sunday.
That two-week stint earned Pagunsan around P2.5 million but now the former Asian Tour No. 1 hopes to wind up with a trophy in the third leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
Pagunsan will be facing top shotmakers including Miguel Tabuena, who is out to redeem himself from a playoff loss to Jay Bayron at ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship two weeks ago in a tournament he dominated majority of the way.
Also among the players to watch in the event offering a top prize of P200,000 are Mhark Fernando, who ruled this event last year, and title hungry Rufino Bayron, Jhonnel Ababa, Ferdie Aunzo, Michael Bibat, Marvin Dumandan, Cassius Casas, Gerald Rosales, Artemio Murakami and Richard Sinfuego.
Rey Pagunsan, who set a record 10-under 58 in the final round at John Hay, also hopes to keep the momentum of his sizzling finish as he tries to end a long slump in the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Tabuena, Ababa and the other leading pros test the par-72 layout on Tuesday in the traditional pro-am tournament where they will be grouped with the amateur guests from the sponsoring ICTSI and the event’s other backers including Nike Golf, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, Mizuno, Titleist, Srixon, Foot Joy, Callaway, Pacsports, Custom Clubmakers, Cleveland Golf and Sharp.
Others tipped to contend for the crown in the 54-hole tournament backed by the event’s media partners Balls, Studio 23, Pinoygolfer.com and Inquirer Golf are Mars Pucay, Clyde Mondilla, Carl Santos-Ocampo, Charles Hong, Zanie Boy Gialon, Jun Bernis, Anthony Fernando, Edward Reyes and Dutch Guido Van der Valk.
After the Calatagan event, the series goes to Cavite for the ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship, a four-day, P2.5 million championship slated May 22 to 25.
The Duel, an event pitting the top players from the North and South in a Ryder Cup-style clash at Alabang on June 3-7, will be followed by the Rancho Palos Verdes Classic from June 26 to 28, the Del Monte Championship set July 3 to 5 and the Pueblo de Oro Championship slated July 10 to 12.