THE new ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour season begins with the P1.5 million Splendido Classic teeing off Wednesday at Splendido Taal Golf Club.
All 16 legs of the new season will be 72 holes, and the organizing Pilipinas Golf Tournaments Inc. and the sponsoring International Container Terminal Services, Inc. have increased the prize money.
It will also mark the first time that the tour, now on its sixth year, will feature foreign players as regular campaigners, making it truly an international circuit in scope and form.
Elmer Saban will look to defend his first-ever pro crown he won over Cassius Casas in a final round duel last year.
Miguel Tabuena is out to redeem himself from a final round meltdown at the Solaire Open at The Country Club last Sunday, where he blew his title bid with a shaky start and struggled to finish joint seventh with a 76.
The 19-year-old shotmaker regained his touch only in the closing holes, birdying three of the last five to salvage a five-over card.
The traditional pro-am tournament will be held Tuesday with around 20 teams featuring the leading pros and their amateur partners from the event’s chief backers including Nike Golf, Custom Clubmakers, Titleist, Cleveland, Pacsports, Srixon, Callaway, Sharp and FootJoy, vying for top honors.
Tony Lascuna, ICTSI PGT top money earner for the last two years, is also raring to bounce back after a joint 31st finish in the Solaire Open.
Focus will also be on Clyde Mondilla, who tied Tabuena as the best Filipino finishers in the Solaire Open.
Zanie Boy Gialon, Elmer Salvador, Carl Santos-Ocampo, Jay Bayron, Orlan Sumcad, Frankie Minoza and Gerald Rosales are also in the lineup.
Angelo Que, however, has opted to skip the tournament following a final round breakdown int the Solaire Open, which he led in the final round until he scored a 12 on the par-5 No. 2. He limped with a dismal 11-over 82 and tumbled to joint 21st.
“I’ll just take a rest this week but I will surely play in Baguio,” said Que, referring to the second leg, the P2 million ICTSI Camp John Hay Championship slated March 26 to 29.
Heading the foreign challenge in the event backed by media partners Balls TV and ABS-CBN Sports+Action, are Q-School topnotcher Rick Gibson of Canada, Swedes Malcolm Kokocinski and CJ Stjarnfalt, Ryoma Miki of Japan, Eric Mina of the US, and Koreans Phil Kyu Cho, Gyuha Park, Sun Woong Kim, and Chang Hoi Kim.