TONY Lascuña hopes to come out strong coming off a playoff setback the last time out, aiming for a top finish in the ICTSI Pradera Verde Classic firing off on Tuesday in Lubao, Pampanga and a boost to his Order of Merit bid in the Philippine Golf Tour Asia.
The multi-titled Davaoeño shotmaker is on top of the money list with US$38,950 (around P1.9 million) in earnings with two tournaments left in the third season (2019-20) of the region’s emerging circuit which broke barriers by holding two tournaments in Taiwan last year.
Lascuña won the tournament in Tainan, besting a slew of Taiwanese and Thai aces, then rebounding from a forgettable joint 31st place finish at Luisita with a runner-up effort at Summit Point, bowing to Juvic Pagunsan in a playoff in November.
“I feel good coming off a long break but so do the rest, so it’s going to be tough,” said Lascuña, 49, also wary of the tour’s long hitters who are expected to dominate the vast Pradera Verde layout.
The elite international field braces for an all-out assault of long, flat layout in Round One of the $100,000 event put up by ICTSI with Aussies Damien Jordan and Jack Lane-Weston, Thai Pachara Sakulyong, Spain’s Marcos Pastor, Josh Salah and Lexus Keoninh of the US and Japan’s Toru Nakajima spearheading the foreign challenge.
Also vying for honors are are Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia, American Charles Lee, Koreans Myung Chal Hwang, Sangun Lee and Jun Sung Park along with Spain’s Salvador Paya Vila, Singapore’s Gabriel Cheok, Finland’s Sean Avellan, and Japan’s Yuta Sudo and Keita Sudo.
But the locals are also keen on keeping the crown at home with reigning Philippine Open champion Clyde Mondilla gunning for the $17,500 top prize to stay in the hunt for back-to-back money titles. The Del Monte ace is currently at No. 3 with $23,823 behind second running but absentee Tim Stewart (US$32,570).
A host of young aces are also ready to crowd the fancied bets in all four days of the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by by PLDT Enterprise, Meralco, BDO and PGT Asia official apparel Pin High, among them Ira Alido, Reymon Jaraula, Keanu Jahns, James Ryan Lam, Justin Quiban, Sean Talmadge, Rupert Zaragosa and former amateur hotshot Lloyd Go.