Two-leg winner and current Order of Merit leader Tony Lascuña headlines a star-studded roster vying in the ICTSI Manila Masters, the second of four P3.5 million events on the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour which fires off June 17 at the Eastridge Golf Club in Binangonan, Rizal.
All the other leg winners after seven legs of the local circuit – Cebuano Charles Hong, Elmer Salvador, Rufino Bayron, Jay Bayron and Jun Rates – are also in the fold along with fancied Angelo Que and Miguel Tabuena, guaranteeing a spirited battle for the top P650,000 purse in the four-day championship sponsored by International Container Terminals Services, Inc.
“It’s going to be anybody’s race since everybody is here and no one holds a clear advantage at Eastridge” said Lascuña, seeking a third straight OOM crown. “With the event one of the richest and all the big guns competing make the title race all the more interesting.”
With the Asian Tour taking a five-week break, the local top guns are all accounted for, gearing up for a battle royale against the ICTSI PGT regulars and a slew of foreign campaigners in the event organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Lascuña, the ICTSI Eagle Ridge and ICTSI Valley Golf Challenge winner, currently leads the OOM derby with winnings of P1,287,398 with Hong, winner of the first P3.5 million event at ICTSI Sherwood last April in second with P936,850.
Salvador, who ruled the ICTSI Riviera Classic, which also served as a leg of the Asian Development Tour, is right behind with P912,750 while Rufino Bayron, fresh from his breakthrough win at ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship, also an ADT event, is in fourth with P761,628 followed by brother and ICTSI Splendido champion Jay Bayron (P720,345).
Micah Shin, who placed second to Hong, has racked up earnings of P571,136), while Rates, who humbled the fancied pros to win at ICTSI John Hay, pooled P507,274 followed by Marvin Dumandan (P499,865), Jhonnel Ababa (P481,324) and Miguel Tabuena (P407,840).
Que and Tabuena, who have had not much of a success in their limited stint on the local tour, are also expected to contend for the crown along with the likes of Dumandan, Ababa, Robert Pactolerin, Clyde Mondilla, Mars Pucay, Carl Santos-Ocampo and Cassius Casas.
The leading pros will test the up-and-down par-72 layout in the traditional pro-am tournament Monday where they will be paired with the amateur players and guests of the event’s chief backers, including Nike Golf, Pacsports Phils. Inc., Srixon, Callaway, Mizuno, Empire Golf, Footjoy, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers, Sharp and KZG with Balls, ABS-CBN Sports+Action and Inquirer Golf as media partners.
Meanwhile, the ICTSI PGT will hold a two-leg Visayan swing next month starting with the ICTSI Iloilo Golf Challenge on July 16-19 at the Iloilo Golf and Country Club. Bacolod will host the other leg the following week for the ICTSI Negros Occidental Classic slated July 23-26.