Frankie Miñoza tries to make an impact on his return to the ICTSI Philippine Golf Tour, joining red-hot young gun Miguel Tabuena and veteran Elmer Salvador in one of the featured flights in Wednesday’s start of the ICTSI Apo Golf Invitational at the Apo Golf and Country Club in Davao City.
Miñoza skipped last week’s ICTSI Rancho Palos Verdes Classic won by Tabuena to honor a previous commitment but is all-pumped up for this P1.5 million event where he hopes to cap his run of Top Six finishes in the last four legs in the circuit with a victory this week.
He will be as much tested as Tabuena, who surged ahead of the Order of the Merit derby after holding off Salvador in the closing holes to snare the Palos Verdes crown, his second after dominating the kickoff leg at Splendido.
But Salvador is also out to get back at Tabuena and fuel his own drive for a second crown after romping off with the ICTSI Riviera Classic title last month, ensuring an early shootout among three of the fancied bets in the 72-hole championship sponsored by ICTSI.
They tee off at 11 a.m. on No. 1.
But a host of others are also expected to figure well for the top P270,000 purse, including reigning three-time OOM winner Tony Lascuña, who won five legs last year but remained winless after eight legs of this year’s tour organized by Pilipinas Golf Tournaments, Inc.
Lascuña, who wound up fourth at Palos Verdes, hopes to cash in on an early morning start (7:10 a.m.) with fellow Davaoeño Elmer Saban and long-hitting Orlan Sumcad while ICTSI Luisita leg winner Charles Hong tries to atone for his poor finish at Palos Verdes (tied for 39th) with a solid stint this week. The Cebuano ace drew local bet Mhark Fernando and former Philippine Open champion Gerald Rosales in the 7:10 a.m. flight on No. 10.
Michael Bibat also seeks to make up for his foldup after leading the first two days at Palos Verdes as he tees off at 7 a.m. with Japanese Yuta Sudo and ICTSI Summit Point winner Arnold Villacencio on No. 1 while Mars Pucay and Clyde Mondilla, last year winners of the TPC and Canlubang legs, respectively, are grouped with another Davaoeño Marvin Dumandan in the 7 a.m. flight on No. 10.
Bibat underscored his readiness by powering his team composed of amateurs Mika Larrabaster, Darius Gloriani and Alimar Etrone to victory with a 15-under 57 in Tuesday’s pro-am.
They nipped Fernando, with teammates Milton Liu, Jorge Sandoval and Raul Torres, who also pooled a 57, in the countback while Royal Northwoods winner Zanieboy Gialon, with Louie Jacinto, Ian Dagatan and Denden de Castro, finished third with a 58.
The Bayron brothers, Jay and Rufino, are also expected to flaunt their familiarity with the par-72 layout along with Davao-based American Micah Shin, Ferdie Aunzo, Jhonnel Ababa and Edgar Ababa.
Cassius Casas is also tipped to flash his local knowledge of the flat but tight layout where he used to dominate although the country’s former No. 1 has been hobbled by a hand injury the past few weeks.
The other backers of the event are Nike Golf, Srixon, Callaway, Empire Golf, TaylorMade, Custom Clubmakers and Sharp.