THE Asian Tour enters its final tournament with three-time winner Angelo Que and Taiwan Masters runner-up Tony Lascuna looking to solidify their standings and others like Miguel Tabuena hoping to make a huge leap and secure their playing cards for next year.
The Iskandar Johor Open tees off on Thursday at Horizon Hills in Johor Bahru Malaysia, with Lascuna running 15th in the Order of Merit and Que in 26th spot.
Victory in the US$2 million event offering US$317,000 to the winner will not vault them to top spot with Order of Merit leader Thaworn Wiratchant and his pursuers well clear.
But Que, Lascuna and the other Filipinos are highly motivated to claim the title and steal the show from an elite field featuring some of the world’s best, among them reigning Open champion Ernie Els of South Africa and European Ryder Cup star Sergio Garcia of Spain.
Que has not won on the Tour since the 2010 Selangor Masters in Malaysia, while longtime pro Lascuna is hoping to finally grab an Asian Tour win after twice finishing in second place, the most recent in the Taiwan Masters in October.
Teen star Tabuena, twice a winner on the domestic tour, is well outside the Asian Tour cut line and will be hoping for a fine finish to claim a place in the top 60 in the Order of Merit and avoid going through qualifying school.
A 17-year-old Tabuena last year missed the top 60 by just US$250, and now he enters the Asian Tour’s season-ending tournament in 75th place and around US$17,000 behind No. 60 Chawalit Plaphol of Thailand. But that deficit is not impossible to overcome in the rich season-ending event.
That also means Elmer Salvador’s place is not secure as he starts the event in 47th spot and just around US$17,000 clear of Plaphol.
Japan Seniors Open champion Frankie Miñoza is also seeing action in the tournament although he is way out of the money race.
The battle for the top spot is expected to go down the wire with Thaworn having earned US$677,606 this season and Australia’s Marcus Fraser with US$652,344. South Africa’s Jbe Kruger has won US$462,588, Gaganjeet Bhullar of India has bagged US$430,845 and Japan’s Masanori Kobayashi has US$410,639.