The men of the PGT (Philippine Golf Tour) Asia resume their title chase in two spillover tournaments from the circuit’s milestone third season, all aiming for a strong start coming off a long break at the Eagle Ridge Golf and Country Club in Gen. Trias, Cavite.
A power-packed cast from at least 15 countries gears up for a pair of four-day battles of shotmaking and wits beginning Tuesday for the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Invitational with Jhonnel Ababa seeking to keep the crown he won in emphatic fashion in 2018 at the Aoki course and extend his run of luck in the circuit.
The $100,000 event serves as the eighth leg of the region’s emerging circuit put up by ICTSI, which staged two tournaments in Taiwan last year to highlight its third season.
Action then heats up next week for the ICTSI Eagle Ridge Championship on Jan. 21-24 at the Faldo layout to be spiked by the race for the Order of Merit honors.
Tony Lascuña, who humbled the Taiwanese aces and a slew of foreign bets to snare the Nan Pao TPGA Open title in Taiwan last Sept., paces the OOM derby with earnings of $38,950 with Aussie Tim Stewart just behind with $32,570, followed by 2018 champion Clyde Mondilla ($23,823) and Thais Namchok Tantipokhakul ($21,972) and Wisut Artjanawat, who ruled the inaugural PGTA event in Taiwan last May, ($21,388).
That guarantees a spirited clash of power, iron play and putting in the next two weeks with the other local top guns and a number of foreign bidders likewise all geared up and ready to crowd the fancied players in pursuit of spots in the elite circle of PGTA winners.
A select number of pros, meanwhile, test the Aoki layout in today’s (Sunday) pro-am tournament where they will be paired with officials and guests of the event’s chief backers, including ICTSI, PLDT Enterprise, Meralco, BDO and PGT Asia official apparel Pin High.
Juvic Pagunsan ruled the last PGTA leg at Summit Point, nipping Lascuña in sudden death with the same finish expected in the last two tournaments for the season of the circuit organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Aside from Ababa, the winningest player in the circuit with four victories, Lascuña, Mondilla, Tantipokhakul and Artjanawat, others in the fold are former leg winners Jobim Carlos, Jay Bayron, Damien Jordan of Australia, James Ryan Lam and American Tarik Can, who edged Thai Nirun Sae-Ueng in a playoff to claim the Aboitiz Invitational crown at Wack Wack last Sept,
Legend Frankie Miñoza and young gun Lloyd Go, on the other hand, head the list of invitees that includes Swede Jonathan Fransson, Hungary’s Adam Kasa, Japanese Toru Nakajima, Yuta Sudo of Japan, Aussie Joe Knox and Korean Gookmin Kim with the likes of Macedonia’s Peter Stojanovski, Americans Josh Salah and Lexus Keoninh, along with Manila-based Dutch Guido Van der Valk spicing up the cast in the event that also drew players from Finland, England, Spain, Singapore and Scotland.