TOP shotmakers expect the battle to again be decided on the greens in the P2 million ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship teeing off Wednesday in Baguio City.
The par-69 course has been softened by rain the past few days and a birdie-fest is expected, with 86 top local shotmakers and foreign parbusters vying for honors and the P360,000 top prize.
“This will be a putting contest again,” said Jay Bayron, who closed out with a 10-under 59 last year and beat teen star Miguel Tabuena in a playoff.
Bayron, top money earner on the Philippine Golf Tour in 2010, won the season opener at Splendido last week and is eyeing back-to-back titles.
“It will really be nice if I can score back-to-back here and in the first two legs of this year’s tour,” he said.
Back-to-back Order of Merit champion Tony Lascuña noted that putting has always been they key to winning at John Hay.
“Ang labanan talaga dito sa John Hay ay putting at paramihan ng birdies. Ang hindi marunong mag-putt, siguradong talo na,” said Lascuña.
Elmer Salvador, top money earner in 2009, also predicts a low scoring contest.
“Pag even-par ka lang lagi, magbalot ka na pauwi.”
But the veteran Frankie Miñoza, winner of three tournaments last year, including two legs of the ICTSI PGT, said it will not just be a birdie contest, stressing the course still poses a challenge despite its short yardage for the pros’ standard.
“Hindi naman basta target ang birdie. Kelangan tingnan din mabuti ang pin placements kasi delikado din ang John Hay,” said Miñoza.
Bayron tees off with long-hitting Rey Pagunsan and Jessie Balasabas, while Miñoza is grouped with Robert Pactolerin and Canada’s Rick Gibson in the early flights.
Lascuna is starting with Mars Pucay and Sweden’s Malcolm Kokocinski at mid-morning.
Salvador grouped with Anthony Fernando and Ferdie Aunzo in an early flight, while Rufino Bayron, raring to atone for his monumental foldup at Splendido, takes aim at a breakthrough win as he starts with Gerald Rosales and Paul Echavez.
Angelo Que starts at mid-morning with Michael Bibat and Jun Rates, while the 19-year-old Tabuena, slowed down by a bum stomach here last year, starts before noon in the company of Carl Santos-Ocampo and Benjie Magada in the event backed by Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Cleveland, Pacsports, Srixon, Callaway, Sharp and FootJoy and media partners Balls TV and ABS-CBN.