THE Philippine Golf Tour Asia resumes on Tuesday with the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Open featuring a stellar field bannered by the local top guns and several foreign shotmakers.
Sam Gillis exudes confidence coming off a playoff victory in Malaysia last week, leading a US contingent that includes regular PGTA campaigners John Michael O’Toole, Lexus Keoninh, Nicolas Paez, Andy Kang, Sydney Chung, Charles Lee, Cory Oride, Pete Vilairatana and Joshua Salah.
Tim Stewart, Nathan Park, Jack Sullivan, Nabil Abdul, Jeram Chudleigh, Calum Juniper and Simon Viitankangas of Australia are also seeing action in the US$100,000 (around P5.3 million) event at the Luisita Golf and Country Club.
Stewart fell just short of his title bid in last week’s ICTSI Luisita Invitational won by Clyde Mondilla, finishing tied for second with Macedonian Peter Stojanovski, another foreign ace tipped to contend for the $17,500 purse in the 72-hole championship serving as the sixth leg of this year’s PGTA.
O’Toole finished second to Jay Bayron at PGTA Southwoods in June with the 25-year-old American raring to finally end a string of heartbreakers in the local circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by ICTSI, Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.
While Mondilla expects locals to dominate the event owing to their local knowledge and form, the 51-player strong foreign contingent is also ready to slug it out with the Filipino top guns, guaranteeing a fierce duel of shotmaking, iron play and putting on a course that puts premium on accuracy.
Gillis hopes to cash in on an early start to get his title bid going as starts with Johvanie Abaño and Korea’s Lee Sangun on No. 1, while O’Toole starts with Bayron and Albin Engino.