From a test of patience and resolve at the tight Wack Wack East, the men of the Philippine Golf Tour shift their battle to a wider, rolling layout down south when the ICTSI Pueblo de Oro Championship is held beginning Wednesday at the Pueblo de Oro Golf and Country Club in Cagayan de Oro City.
The P2.5 million event actually marks the resumption of the local circuit after a month-long break that saw Juvic Pagunsan cap a record four-leg sweep via an eight-shot romp at Riviera and after American Tarik Can scrambled to win with a four-over card at Wack Wack in Aboitiz Invitational of PGT Asia last weekend.
Kim Joo Hyung nipped Jobim Carlos by one to rule the Pueblo de Oro event last year, becoming the youngest winner in the circuit at 16. The victory likewise spurred the Korean to go international, scoring two victories in Malaysia and Indonesia just recently.
But even without Pagunsan and Kim, the cast this week remains formidable with the likes of Jhonnel Ababa, Ferdie Aunzo, Jerson Balasabas, Michael Bibat, Marvin Dumandan, Anthony Fernando, Keanu Jahns, Reymon Jaraula, Tony Lascuña, Mars Pucay, Elmer Salvador, Gerald Rosales and Rupert Zaragosa all geared up for four days battle of shotmaking and putting in pursuit of the top P450,000 purse.
Jay Bayron is also suiting up, eager to make up for his missed cut stint at Wack Wack where he reigned as Aboitiz champion in 2016.
Guido Van der Valk, the Manila-based shotmaker from the Netherlands who topped the kickoff leg of the milestone decade-long staging of the PGT put up by ICTSI at Club de Filipino de Cebu last June, banners the crack roster of foreign bidders in the 72-hole championship organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc. and backed by Custom Clubmakers, Meralco, Champion, Summit Mineral Water, K&G Golf Apparel, BDO, Sharp, KZG, PLDT and M.Y. Shokai Technology, Inc.
Thai Kammalas Namuangruk, in the hunt at Aboitiz after two rounds but faded in the last 36 holes, seeks redemption along with compatriot Pachara Sakulyong, American Lexus Keoninh, Aussie Fidel Concepcion, Korean Park Jun Sung, Venezuela’s Rafael Para and Japanese Keisuke Takahashi.
Other foreign aces vying in the event serving as the kickoff leg of a four-stage Mindanao swing are Koreans Jeong Jooan and Choi Sangrog, Spain’s Rafa Culla, Greg Gonzalez and Riley Keagle of the US, Japanese Kanata Nakagawa, Ryui Hashimoto and Makoto Iwasaki, Scots Julian Hood and Ryan Hood, Aussie Jack Lane-Weston, Argentina’s Emilio Parodi, Brunei’s Aslimon Qawin and Peter Stojanovski of Macedonia.
After Pueblo de Oro, the circuit moves to Bukidnon for the ICTSI Del Monte Championship on Sept. 18-21 with Davao to host the next stop on Oct. 2-5 for the ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational before winding up at the new South Pacific Golf and Leisure Estates, also in Davao, on Oct. 9-12.