THE country’s top pros begin battle for the lion’s share of the record P3 million purse as the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Classic tees off Tuesday at the Norman and Faldo courses of the Eagle Ridge golf complex in General Trias, Cavite.
Tony Lascuna has been drawn to play Frankie Minoza and former national champion Anthony Fernando in an early morning flight at Faldo, while three-time Asian Tour leg winner Angelo Que is grouped with Mars Pucay and Rufino Bayron in a mid-morning schedule at Norman.
The 93-player field will be split into two and play the Norman and Faldo courses in the first two days with the top 40 and ties heading to the final 36 holes to be played at the Aoki layout.
The dreaded Dye course was supposed to be the third round venue but the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. said it was not ready in time for the event offering a top prize of top P550,000.
“Kahit walang Dye, wala pa rin lamang dito sa Eagle Ridge. Anything can happen, anybody can win,” said Lascuna, the reigning back-to-back ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour Order of Merit champion. “Maganda ang labanan dito at patas dahil iba-iba ang course.”
Eagle Ridge general manager Raymond Bunquin said it’s going to be windy at all courses this week.
“I think the players should take advantage of the friendly Norman and Faldo courses. In fact, they should post good scores at them then give it a go at Aoki,” said Bunquin.
“Nakakalito dito sa Eagle kasi tatlong courses ang lalaruin, dapat may halong swerte din,” said former money list topnotcher Elmer Salvador, who will be starting with Splendido winner Jay Bayron and Orlan Sumcad at the Norman course.
Jun Rates is also bracing for a challenging week after his breakthrough victory in the ICTSI John Hay Championship two weeks ago.
“This new format is more challenging, and everybody has a chance. I really looked forward to this event since it offers a bigger challenge,” said Rates, who humbled the cream of the crop to rule the Baguio leg of the circuit backed by Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Cleveland, Pacsports, Srixon, Callaway, Sharp and FootJoy and media partners Balls TV and ABS-CBN.
Rates and teammates Joan Cortez, Felix Cortez and Uriel Halum scored 51 for a two-point victory over Sumcad, Arnel Paras, Yassin Palileo and Dex Yaptenco.
Lascuna, with Ireneo Arbues, Lee Tong Hwa and Ramil Villanueva, placed third with 55.
Rates will tee off with Miguel Tabuena and Rene Menor at mid-morning at the Faldo course.
Que is also tipped to contend for the crown as the three-time Asian Tour winner uses the event as a tune-up for his stint in next week’s Malaysia Open.
“I’m hitting the ball quite well, even at John Hay and I expect to contend this week,” said Que, who skipped the Splendido leg and finished joint fifth in Baguio.