The battle for the top $10,500 purse begins today in the $60,000 ICTSI Orchard Golf Championship with no less than a strong start expected from the crack international field, each hoping to put on low scores at the Palmer layout that requires solid shot-making, accuracy and steady putting.
The organizing Asian Development Tour and the host club have made the par-72 a lot longer at 7,051 yards with a number of par 4s measuring up close to 500 yards and the greens expected to bring out the best or the worst from them with its sleek putting surface.
An early shootout looms among three of the fancied shotmakers from the starting 110-player cast as local ace Angelo Que drew ADT leg winner Brett Munson of the US and Englishman Peter Richardson, who finished joint second in last week’s ICTSI Riviera Classic ruled by Elmer Salvador, in the featured group at 11:15 a.m. on No. 1.
“I think I’ll have to play conservatively although I have a slight advantage when it comes to local knowledge. But it will boil down to putting,” said Que, who is raring to get going coming off a two-week long rest. He skipped the Riviera leg last week to prepare for this four-day championship sponsored by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. which caps a two-week swing of the ADT here.
But Richardson is also out to sustain his final round charge at Riviera, where he closed out with a 67 to finish joint second with Thai Pavit Tangkamolprasert, while Munson, who dominated ADT’s second leg in Malaysia last March, hopes to atone for his forgettable joint 41st place effort last week with a strong finish this week.
Focus will also be on Robert Pactolerin, the veteran campaigner who made quite an impression with a solid fifth place finish at Riviera, holding his own in the first three days with a slew of under-par scores in tough conditions before wavering with a 74 in the final round.
“I’m in good shape and my ball striking and iron games are quite okay. Maybe I could contend again this week but it depends on His will,” said Pactolerin, the former Philippine Open champion and many-time Phl Masters winner who last won in 2011 in his hometown in Bacolod.
He hopes to cash in on an early tee-off at 6:50 a.m. in the company of Australian Chris Carey and Frenchman Pierre-Auguste Mary.
With Salvador, Tony Lascuna, Miguel Tabuena, Jay Bayron and Mars Pucay out this week to compete in the Queens Cup of the Asian Tour firing off tomorrow, Que has been installed as the best local hope owing to his form and experience. But the three-time Asian Tour champion has opted to downplay his chances but vowed to do dish out his best shot to win the crown and complete the local bets’ sweep of the two ADT events.
Aside from Que and Pactolerin, the other local aces expected to join the title hunt in the event, backed by Nike Golf, Pacsports Phils. Inc., Srixon, Callaway, Mizuno, Empire Golf, Footjoy, Titleist, Custom Clubmakers, Sharp and KZG., are ICTSI Sherwood Hills winner Charles Hong of Cebu, John Hay leg champion Jun Rates, Marvin Dumandan, Jhonnel Ababa, Clyde Mondilla, Rufino Bayron, Carl Santos-Ocampo, Cassius Casas, Zanie Boy Gialon, Rey Pagunsan, Michael Bibat, Ferdie Aunzo, Jessie Balasabas and Mhark Fernando.
“Medyo mahaba ang course pero pantay pantay lang din kasi mahirap din ang greens,” said Ababa, who finished runner-up to Lascuna at ICTSI Valley Golf Challenge last month.
Malaysian Arie Irawan, meanwhile, believes his first ADT win is within sight as he takes aim at this week’s crown along with Englishman Grant Jackson, Japanese Masaru Takahasi, Mitsuhiko Hashizume and Tomokazu Yoshinaga and Aussie Quinton Howe.
“The greens and fairways are good. Just need to get the speed right on my putts because it could a bit tricky on the greens,” said Howe, seeing action for only the second time on the ADT this year after finishing joint 28th in the kickoff leg in Sime Darby Harvard Championship in Malasyia last March.
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