WITH no one holding a distinct advantage in course familiarity, a wide-open battle for top honors is expected when the P1 million ICTSI Tagaytay Midlands Challenge tees off on Wednesday.
“This is going to be anybody’s race. No one enjoys the so-called homecourt edge at Midlands,” said Angelo Que, one of the top favorites in the 54-hole tournament serving as the 10th leg of the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour.
The par-72 course, hosting a tour event for the first time in five years, offers enough elements for a strong test of golf although emphasis will still be on shot-making and putting.
“I’m looking forward to playing Midlands again and hopefully get a win afterwards,” said Que. “It’s important to place shots at the right place especially with an up-and-down course with undulating putting surface.”
Rains spawned by Typhoon Labuyo have softened the fairways, thus making it longer with the dreaded wind expected to come into play anytime that could cast doubts on so many shots.
Que is eyeing a follow-up to his runaway victory at ICTSI Orchard last May although he has turned in impressive finishes in the last two legs at Aboitiz Invitational and ICTSI Classic, making him the marked man in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
But he will be up against a field teeming with talent, headed by ICTSI PGT Order of Merit leader Miguel Tabuena, who is also due for another win after rallying to finish fourth at ICTSI Classic at Mt. Malarayat two weeks ago.
Tabuena kicked off his campaign this year with a victory at ICTSI Sherwood Classic and a runner-up finish at John Hay but missed figuring in a title chase in the last legs until he shot a final round eight-under 64 at Mt. Malarayat.
Also tipped to contend for this week’s crown are fellow Davaoenos Tony Lascuna and Elmer Salvador with the former coming off a runner-up finish at ICTSI Classic and the latter pulling off a win at the Aboitiz invitational and finishing third at Mt. Malarayat.
Mhark Fernando, seeking an end to a long title drought, is also expected to ride the momentum of his joint 10th place finish in the Chiangmai Open of the Asean PGA Tour last Sunday where he sizzled with a final-round 64.
Out to foil the big guns’ bid in the event, backed by Nike Golf, Srixon, Custom Clubmakers, Pacsports, Cleveland Golf, Callaway, Ping, Mizuno, Empire Golf and Sports Shop, FootJoy, Titleist, Sharp and BMW, are Jay Bayron, Carl Santos-Ocampo, Jhonnel Ababa, Michael Bibat, Edward Reyes, Charles Hong, Mars Pucay and Rufino Bayron.